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Russia to send ships to Syria next year

MOSCOW, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Russia plans to send a fleet of warships, including its only aircraft carrier, to the Syrian port of Tartus in early spring next year, a senior officer said.

The officer said the decision to dispatch the warships has nothing to do with the current unrest in Syria, but experts believe their presence will act as a deterrence, the Russian daily Izvestia reported.

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The ships will dock at an old Russian base at the port, Izvestia said.

"The call of the Russian ships in Tartus should not be seen as a gesture towards what is going on in Syria … . This was planned already in 2010 when there were no such events there," the officer was quoted as saying.

Adm. Viktor Kravchenko, former navy chief of staff, said the presence of the warships at the Syrian port "will prevent the outbreak of armed conflict."

The aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov will dock outside the port, the report said.

Tartus is the second-largest port in Syria after Latakia.

Last year, the senior Russian navy commander, Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky, told the RIA Novosti news service of plans to develop and modernize the Russian base in Syria.

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