The Black Sea Fleet's naval task force, including the missile cruiser Moskva, the destroyer Smetlivy, the large landing ships Novocherkassk and Saratov, the tugboat MB-304 and the large oil tanker Ivan Bubnov, have received an order to remain in a designated area in the eastern Mediterranean ready to evacuate Russian citizens from the Gaza Strip should the Palestinian-Israeli conflict worsen.
This statement was issued Friday, Nov. 23, by a source in the Russian Navy’s Mai Command.
debkafile’s military sources: The Russian statement is in effect a cover story for the naval task force’s real mission, which is to stand by for coming developments in relation to the Syrian conflict.
Moscow used the pretext first offered by Washington last week for the stationing of three US warships led by the USS Iwo Jima amphibious ready group opposite Israeli shores last week, i.e. as a precautionary measure for the evacuation of US citizens in a war emergency.
The Iwo Jima was meanwhile to be found Friday in waters opposite Syria.