MOSCOW, October 16. /TASS/. The Russian Navy’s ships in the Mediterranean may be involved in the strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria, a deputy chief of the Russian General Staff said on Friday in an interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.
"Undoubtedly," Colonel General Andrey Kartapolov said in reply to this question.
He stressed that the capabilities of Russian ships in the Mediterranean Sea allow for delivering strikes IS targets at any moment. The ships are currently tasked with protecting cargoes and ensuring air defense. "Our unit first of all ensures transporting materiel. In order for it to be unhindered, a Navy unit was deployed there, including attack ships. Moreover, this unit ensures guaranteed air defense for our base. Air defense systems are not in any way directed against coalition countries," he added.
The Russian Navy has already delivered strikes from the Caspian Sea on the night to October 7 against militants’ objectives in Syria, using Kalibr long-range cruise missiles.
According to the military officer, Russia’s General Staff does not rule out creating a military base in Syria with the naval, air and ground components.
"I would rather talk about creating one Russian military base. This will be one base to comprise the naval, air and ground components," he said in the interview.
Russia currently has a naval supply and maintenance facility at Tartus in Syria.
The official officer said the Russian Army forces will not be involved in Syria "under any circumstances."
"That’s ruled out. Our ground troops will not take part in the land operation under any circumstances. By the way, this is what our president said," he noted answering a question on the issue.
The Russian Northern Fleet’s press office earlier this week rejected some media reports saying Russia’s heavy aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov would be allegedly dispatched to Syria.
"No long march or some other combat and operational training measures are planned for the heavy aircraft carrier in the near future," the press office said.
Russia’s sole aircraft carrier is completing the stage of basic preparations for going to sea. The ship is currently staying at its moorage in Murmansk and its crew is carrying out planned combat training measures. Technical works aboard the aircraft carrier are actually over.
Russia launched an air operation against terrorists in Syria on September 30 at the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Russian Aerospace Force’s aviation grouping comprises over 50 aircraft and helicopters, including the newest Sukhoi Su-34 warplanes, Su-30SM fighter jets, modernized Su-24M bombers and Su-25SM attack aircraft, as well as the Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters.