Russia capable of guaranteeing permanent presence of its warships in Mediterranean - Russian Defense Minister

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has said that the Russian Navy has every opportunity for the establishment and permanent operation of a naval task force in the Mediterranean.

"It has been decided to set up a department of a Navy task force in the Mediterranean zone where naval forces will stay on a permanent basis," he said at a Monday expanded session of the command of the Russian Armed Forces.

"I believe that we have every opportunity to establish and guarantee the functioning of such a formation. Indisputably this is an indication of the positive development dynamics of the Navy," he said.

"Russia needs a navy that could effectively operate in different parts of the oceans," the minister said.

"The exercise conducted last January in the Black and Mediterranean Seas showed that on the whole an interfleet grouping is capable of fulfilling its tasks in the off-shore maritime zone," the minister said.

At the same time "the general state of affairs in the Navy cannot be called satisfactory," he said. "In the first place this is connected with the fact that new ships were not adopted for a long time and the maintenance service timetables were not observed," he said.

"As a result a significant part of the fleet has to be operated with extended overhaul life, many ships and vessels are restricted in the use of armaments and military equipment," Shoigu admitted.

The conference is attended by the leadership of the Defense Ministry, officials from the Military-Industrial Commission with the government, the Industry and Trade Ministry and the United Shipbuilding Corporation.

Among other things the conference discusses the state of Navy ships and vessels and ability to fulfill their assigned tasks.

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