Russian warships set out Tuesday, Dec. 18, for two Middle East flashpoint destinations: Naval sources in Moscow reported that two assault ships, a tanker and an escort vessel were detached from the Baltic Fleet and are sailing for the Syrian port of Tartus – possibly to evacuate Russian citizens. A second naval group led by Russia’s largest anti-submarine vessel, the Severomorsk, is on its way to the Gulfs of Aden and Oman close to the Persian Gulf and Iran.
The ships destined for Syria are the Russian fleet’s two largest amphibious assault vessels, the Kaliningrad and the Alexander Shabalin, which is a cruiser converted to a guided missile frigate renamed Yaroslav the Wise, the SB-921 rescue and tug ship, and the Lena military tanker.
Russian military sources say this flotilla will relieve the Black Sea Fleet’s task force vessels deployed off the Syrian coast since November.
Full article: Russian warships sail for Syria, large anti-submarine ship for waters near Iran (DEBKAfile)