Russian naval force in Mediterranean ensures safe transportation of Syrian chemical arms - Defense Minister
Russia supplied Syria in December with military cross-country vehicles, armored vehicles and other hardware necessary for transporting Syrian chemical weapons to the port of Latakia, Russian Defense Minister General of the Army Sergei Shoigu said.
"At present, Russia and the international community are jointly conducting the naval phase of the provision of the safe loading and transportation of Syrian chemical weapons to the place of their transfer," Shoigu said at a teleconference of the Defense Ministry's Situational Center as he spoke about the accomplishment of the mission by the Russian Navy unit deployed in the Mediterranean.
"The task force of the Russian Navy in the Mediterranean is engaged in this mission," Shoigu said. He asked the force commander, Capt. 1st Rank Oleg Peshkurov, to report by video-link on the measures taken for the high-quality accomplishment of the mission in due time.
"The Pyotr Veliky heavy nuclear-powered missile cruiser from the Navy's task force deployed in the Mediterranean is providing the security for loading work in Latakia from the sea and escorting the Norwegian and Danish vessels with components of Syrian chemical weapons aboard across Syrian territorial waters," the commander said.
A staff coordination center has been deployed onboard the missile cruiser "for organizing the operative interaction in the period of transportation of chemical weapons by sea," Peshkurov said. The center includes members of the staff of the Russian Navy task force and signal corps officers from the ships of the Danish, Norwegian and Chinese Navies, he continued.
"There is an exchange of current information between missions of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations Organization on Cyprus and in the Syrian Arab Republic and the international naval forces," the officer reported.
The Pyotr Veliky missile cruiser and a Chinese patrol cutter escorted the Danish Ark Futura ship carrying the first batch of components of Syrian chemical weapons on its trip from the port of Latakia on January 7. "The cruiser crew successfully accomplished its mission," the commander said. "Currently, the missile cruiser is staying in the designated area [of the Mediterranean]; it is prepared for further operations in the safe transportation of chemical weapons."