The St. Petersburg central naval command has announced the large landing warship "Nikolai Filchenkov" will set sail for the Syrian coast to join two Russian destroyers which have already left, as Moscow boosts it's presence in the region ahead of expectations that the US will not wait for the world to support them. The US is unlikely to wait for any support from world leaders or the United Nations but use the expected approval of its Congress to launch a two-month “limited” campaign as early as the end of the month.
The US also has warships in the area and, as president Barack Obama has previously revealed, any military engagement would likely come from air strikes – most likely fired from (warships) on suspected chemical weapons plants and the mechanisms of delivery including the Syrian airforce.
The Russian warships will join a Russian anti-submarine ship, a frigate and three other landing ships in the eastern Mediterranean coast. The Russians say the latest warship deployed would be collecting “special cargo” but would not elaborate.
“The ship will make call in Novorossiisk, where it will take on board special cargo and set off for the designated area of its combat duty in the eastern Mediterranean,”
a Russian official said.
The deployment comes amid high tensions at the G20 summit of world leaders, which took place in the Russian city St. Petersburg, the Summit was intended to debate the economy and poverty in developing nations but instead the agenda has been hijacked by the Syrian crisis.There is a clear split in opinion at the conference as to the evidence that the Bashar al-Assad regime used chemical weapons on its citizens which killed more than 1400 people including 400 children last month.
There now appears to be little debate chemicals were used but a split on who actually used them. Both Russia and China, which held private talks at the summit, do not believe the evidence sustainable, while on the other hand, the US, UK, France and Australia believe it is and that retaliation is required.
UN chief Ban ki-moon has been attending the summit urging support for a peace conference, while Russian President Vladimir Putin, overnight Summit host, held a dinner for the leaders during which they made their case for entry into the Syria crisis. President Obama said he had ”very high confidence” in the evidence showing that chemical weapons were used and urged strong condemnation. He was supported by Prime Minister David Cameron, and Australia's Foreign Minister Bob Carr, who also said that they also had strong evidence of an atrocity by the regime. France’s Francois Hollande said he was prepared to enter the conflict.
The leaders have precious little time to bridge very bitter gaps and quell the animosity between nations, notably the US, Russia, and the UK. The tensions in forums have made talks difficult. Mr Putin’s official spokesman Dmitry Peskov yesterday dismissed Britain as “just a small island no-one pays any attention to” and boasted how rich Russians were buying up most of Chelsea, an upmarket suburb in London, and the US has made clear it's disdain for Putin. Who wouldn't love to be a fly on that wall?