> Black Sea Fleet May Move To Syria
Black Sea Fleet May Move to Syria
from the July 11, 2006 eNews issue
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Russia may be planning to move its Black Sea Fleet to the Syrian port of Tartus.
Russia's Black Sea Fleet currently uses a range of naval facilities in the Ukrainian region of Crimea. They operate in the region under a 1997 agreement that allowed Russia to continue its presence in the former Soviet republic for rent of $93 million per year.
The fleet is not scheduled to withdraw until 2017. However the Ukraine has recently voiced concerns that Russia is not paying enough for the facilities and has demanded that a new agreement be signed. Russia says that it will not make any concessions and negotiations between Russia and the Ukraine have stalled.
On June 23, 2006, Ukrainian officials attempted to seize a building and equipment belonging to the Black Sea Fleet, further aggravating the disagreement.
Recently a respected Russian newspaper quoted multiple sources in Russia's diplomatic service and the Defense Ministry, indicating that Russia may be planning to move its Black Sea Fleet to Syria. Russia has started dredging at the Syrian port of Tartus where it maintains a logistical supply point and it may have plans to turn it into a full-fledged naval base. Russia has also launched a modernization project at the port of Latakia, located about 60 miles to the north of Tartus.
A Defense Ministry source said that Moscow was planning to form a squadron led by the Moskva, the Black Sea Fleet's flagship missile cruiser, within the next three years. The squadron would operate in the Mediterranean Sea on a permanent basis.
Over the past two years, partly as a consequence of the war in Iraq, Russia has been carefully cultivating ties with Turkey, Iran and Syria. After losing the Mid-East foothold provided by Saddam Hussein's Iraq, the Russians have been building a new axis of power based on those three key countries. Russia is now Turkey's second-largest trading partner, with a volume of $10 billion in trade per year; Russia strengthened ties with Iran by supplying it with nuclear-related technologies; and last year Russia and Syria made plans to increase diplomatic and military cooperation. Russia wrote-off approximately 10 billion dollars of Syrias Soviet-era debt and has supplied Syria with Russian made SA-18 surface-to-air missiles.
Russia's arms exports in 2005 totalled a record breaking 6.1 billion dollars. Despite the ongoing controversy about Iran's nuclear program, Russia intends to sell Iran up to 30 Tor M-1 surface-to-air missiles in a deal estimated to be worth up to 700 million dollars. Russia claims to be our ally and partner in the war against terrorism. However despite US objections, Russia is all too willing to sell advanced weaponry to countries (like Syria and Iran) which support the insurgency in Iraq. Russia has also made overtures to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian government. Russia does not consider Hamas to be a terrorist organization, even though Hamas has claimed responsibility for the murder of more than 500 people in at least 350 separate terrorist attacks since 1993.
Russia is a co-sponsor of the Road Map Peace Plan, but that does not mean they are a friend to Israel. Prior to the elections in January, Russian military experts were sent to the Gaza Strip to train Palestinian security forces. In addition to training, Russia is prepared to provide the Palestinians with armored vehicles, ammunition, and helicopters. In past speeches Putin has called on Israel to make concessions and withdraw "from all the occupied Arab lands back to the June 4, 1967 border."
Tensions in the Middle East continue to increase and recent events indicate that the famed battle prophesied in Ezekiel 38 and 39 could be on our near horizon. It is during this battle, that God will directly intercede to protect Israel from Magog and its allies. For more information on this topic see the links below.
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Black Sea Fleet Reports Attempt to Seize its Building - RIAN
Ukraine Tries to Evict Russian Fleet - Daily India
An Old Base Gets a Facelift - Spiegel
Russia's Moves in Syria - PINR
Critics of Putin Gather - New York Times
Strategic Trends: The Magog Invasion - Koinonia House