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MOSCOW, January 15. /ITAR-TASS World Service/. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that Russia was assisting to Syria to remove chemical weapons from the country: according to him, at the end of last year, the Russian military had delivered to the country about 75 vehicles to this end. Highly toxic agents were delivered on them to Latakia port for further transportation. The Russian naval task force in the Mediterranean is also involved in the operation. Its ships escort the Ark Futura ship with the first batch of chemical weapons.
Russia is not directly involved in the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons, the Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper writes. However, Russia and a number of other states have assumed an equally responsible task — to ensure safe transportation of chemical weapons first to the port of Latakia, and then — by sea — to the places of their disposal. As the route is mainly by sea, the Russian naval task force in the Mediterranean has a special role in this mission. The task force currently includes eight warships and support vessels led by the Pyotr Veliky (Peter the Great) heavy nuclear-powered missile cruiser. A staff coordination centre has been deployed on board the cruiser. In addition to Russian navy men, the centre included signals corps officers of the navies of Denmark, Norway and China.
The Kommersant daily quoted Sergei Shoigu as saying that the Russian naval task force in the Mediterranean was involved in this mission. Russian President Vladimir Putin issued the corresponding order, the defense minister said. The operation also involved ships of the naval forces of China, Denmark, Norway and Syria. According to the Russian military, on January 7, the Pyotr Veliky heavy nuclear cruiser, together with China’s vessel Yancheng escorted Danish Ark Futura ship that was carrying Syrian chemical weapons. Russia’s Defense Ministry emphasized that the Russian and Chinese warships for the first time ever established interaction in the naval phase of the operation to transport Syrian chemical weapons in the Mediterranean Sea.
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