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Russian Navy under fire in media war over alleged Syria mission
For several days on end a number of mass media outlets have broadcasted news that Russian ships with marines on board are either preparing for, or are already on their way to Syria
The media were bursting with lines like Nikolai Filchenkov with a marine company and tanks onboard is heading for Syria and Caesar Kunikov with the same on board or even that Kaliningrad with nobodycansaywhat on board. Vague references were made to socalled sources crying that Syria, Iran, and China are preparing for largescale joint manoeuvres on the Syrian territory and in the territorial waters of the country. The Financial Times attributed the quote that Marines and 25 tanks are already onboard one of the Black Sea large landing ships to the chief of the pressservice of the Black Sea Fleet, Captain First Rank Valentin Trukhachev, and Interfax news agency. They supposedly also reported that ships would be sent to Syria in case of need. All this despite the fact that Black Sea marines are not armed with tanks.
The campaign was initiated by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton statement concerning the supplies of new Russian combat helicopters to Syria, while what was at issue was the return of repaired old helicopters that had been supplied to Syria by the Soviet Union. The peak of the tension came when the news channel AlArabiya, referring to the Iranian News Agency Fars, spread news about largescale war games with the participation of Russian, Chinese, Syrian and Iranian military units. According to the report, these were going to be the most largescale manoeuvres in the Middle East, and about 90 thousand land, sea, and air force servicemen were going to take part in them. Later, the AlArabiya website posted a message that Russia and Syria refuted the information about the alleged upcoming war games.
The characters of this pseudo news are actual real ships. We can find out where each of them was at given time. Reports about the Kunikov heading for Syria began to appear on June 19. On June 16, the ship returned to Sevastopol after a cruise to Italy. On June 19, the ship set sail again. The mass media broke into frenzy that this time Syria was its intended destination. Nevertheless, according to information from Sevastopol, the goal of this cruise is the measurement of radio deviation, and the ship is due at base by June 20.
The second was the Nikolay Filchenkov, which remains in port, clearly visible from the coast, and it has stayed there all these days.
The Baltic Fleet is next on the list. The large landing ship Kaliningrad that set sail at the beginning of June was accused of sailing in Syrian direction. The ship had taken part in the international maneuvers BALTOPS2012. After that, together with other ships involved in the exercise, she headed for Kiel in order to participate in the traditional Kiel Week a large sea holiday held every year on the Baltic coast of Germany. After it the ship is returning to Baltiysk.
As for AlArabiya report concerning a aircraft carrier heading for the Syrian coasts, it is not worth serious discussion. The only Russian aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, returned from a long cruise to the Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea at the end of the winter, and now sits in its proper place in the Kola Bay of the Barents Sea. The ship is to undergo serious repairs soon, and she will be out of action for a long time.
In fact there are far more things of interest taking place. It happens quite often that fleet ships leave their bases, because there are hundreds of exercises in the combat training plan of the Navy. It looks like a new wave of reports about Russian ships making their way to Syria is in store for readers every time anything larger than a tugboat sets sail from Sevastopol, Novorossiysk, Baltiysk, Kronstadt, Severomorsk, or, perhaps, even Vladivostok and Astrakhan which is entirely possible because the Azov and Black Sea can be reached via channels.
Joking aside, the Mediterranean Sea, especially its eastern waters, is the operational area of the Black Sea Fleet. If a real order to redeploy forces to the Syrian coasts is received, what tasks will the fleet be able to perform? Syria is a zone of Russian interests, and today these interests lie in eliminating external interference in the events in this country. While the Russian Navy ships are in Syrian territorial waters or on the Tartus base, they can become a factor that would exclude aNATO military operation: a possible conflict with Russia is by no means the price the Alliance is ready to pay for the Syrian issue settlement.
Finally, even in the absence of foreign interference, an internal conflict in Syria can threaten Russian property in the country, including the Tartus base, which the Navy uses as a logistics post. Protecting the lives and safety of the base personnel is the direct responsibility of the Ministry of Defense, and if such a decision is made, the Fleet will be able to carry it out.
For many people of the world the Bradley Manning case seems absurd and his persecution by the US Government something difficult to comprehend. He was something that the US government is afraid of, he was a soldier with a conscience who exposed war crimes being committed by US forces. The way the US has turned logic upside down by going after one who exposed crimes while protecting those who commit crimes should have the world up in arms. Only an illegal and illegitimate government would protect criminals while persecuting and even torturing a moral and upstanding brave individual who had the courage to stand up and blow the whistle on what he saw, rather than being rewarded and seen as a hero. Those protecting the criminals have decided to make Mr. Manning an example in order to throw fear into the hearts of anyone who would dare to expose their illegality.
The Children Rights Commissioner for the Russian President, Pavel Astakhov, asked the Federal Migration Service head to grant asylum for a daughter of a Russian woman who has escaped from her husband in Norway. The girl can be granted asylum in Russia as a minor needing protection, a lawyer, Roman Stepanov, said to the Voice of Russia. The girl and her mother are currently staying in transit zone of Moscow Sheremetyevo airport in much the same way as exCIA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden had for three weeks.
Fonterra, the world leading exporter of dairy products, is recalling a number of its milk products after a food poisoning scare. China, which is the major importer of milk powder from New Zealand was the first country to impose bans on Fonterra products. The Chinese decision was supported by Russia that has also put Fonterra deliveries on hold. Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare is now investigating whether contaminated products from New Zealand were imported to the markets. Professor of economy at the New School University Max Fraad Wolff talked with the Voice of Russia about the impact of Fronterraban on New Zealands market.
Keeping a killer dog in Britain may become a risky business. The government has come up with new sentencing proposals for dog owners whose pets attack people in public venues. The options for the owner of a dog which injures a person or an assistance dog could range from a tenyear prison terms to a life behind bars. At present, the maximum sentence is two years in jail. Mr Dave Joyce, the National Health, Safety Environment Officer at The Communication Workers Union, talked with the Voice of Russia about the new policy.