It is being reported that large Russian amphibious naval ships are steaming toward the Syrian port of Tartus, where Russian civilians and naval infrastructure are under threat from ongoing civil disorder.
“The crews of the Nikolay Filchenkov, Ceasar Kunikov and SB-15 tugboat – together with the marine units they carry – are capable of protecting security of Russian citizens and evacuating a part of the property of the logistics base,” a source at the Russian Navy General Staff told Interfax-AVN on Monday.
But according to an officer stationed with the Black Sea Fleet, the Nikolay Filchenkov and Ceasar Kunikov are still sitting in dock in Sevastopol. Moreover, the crew is said to be on “regular service duty” and are under no emergency orders. He pointed out, however, that Russian naval ships must be prepared to dispatch anywhere within 12 hours.
There has also been speculation over Russia’s Syrian logistics base in Tartus, which operates the PM-138 floating workshop. This facility provides technical maintenance of Russian warships deployed in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Russian Black Sea Fleet’s Iman tanker, with an anti-terrorist squad aboard, completed a mission off the coast of Syria in May; that same month, plans for the Moscow missile-carrying cruiser of the Black Sea Fleet to patrol the Syrian coastline was canceled in May.
Meanwhile, The Professor Katsman, a cargo vessel, pulled into Tartus on May 26. Some Russian and foreign media outlets speculated that the vessel delivered Russian weapons to the Syrian authorities that could be used to fight the opposition.
Russia denied the claims, stressing that it only provides Syria with defensive weapons to protect it from outside attack.