MOSCOW, April 18. /TASS/. Russia’s Defense Ministry has lambasted the allegations put forward by Ukraine’s Security Service (or SBU) that Moscow used the Varyag missile cruiser, the flagship of Russia’s Pacific Fleet, for shipping members of the Wagner Group, heavy weapons and ammunition from its home base of Vladivostok to Syria.
"Before spinning some tales, the illiterate bosses in Ukraine’s intelligence services should have consulted either the Ukrainian Naval command or their Western handlers," Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Wednesday.
"The flagship of the Pacific Fleet, the Varyag guided missile cruiser has never called into Syria’s Tartus," he said, explaining that the Tartus naval facility had no quays adequate for ships with such displacement to moor or dock.
"As for the alleged shipment of heavy weaponry, the Varyag’s design lacks cargo holds. The cruiser is neither meant for nor built for the transportation of military equipment and other large-sized cargoes for military use," Konashenkov stressed.
Earlier, Ukrainian law enforcers were reported to have detained two men who were planning to cross the border illegally. One man was reportedly a Russian citizen with a military record ID stating that the man had been awarded for fighting in the military operation in Syria. Officers of Ukraine’s Security Service questioned the detainee. According to them, the man said he was serving as a contractor on the Varyag missile cruiser in 2015-2017 and had regularly taken part in transportation to Syria of members of the Wagner Group private military company and their heavy weapons and ammunition.