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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia's Pacific Fleet warships join anti-piracy mission

RIA Novosti

02/01/2009 13:03 MOSCOW, January 2 (RIA Novosti) - A naval task force from Russia's Pacific Fleet led by the Admiral Vinogradov destroyer has joined a Russian frigate on an anti-piracy mission off Somalia, a source in the fleet's headquarters said Friday.

"A group of warships of the Pacific Fleet has entered the Arabian Sea to join the Baltic Fleet's escort ship Neustrashimy. They will be jointly accomplishing their mission according to plan," the source said.

The Neustrashimy (Fearless) frigate has been operating off the Horn of Africa according to international maritime law and agreements since the end of October to protect commercial ships from pirate attacks.

Apart from the Admiral Vinogradov destroyer, the naval task force also includes the rescue tug-boat Foty Krylov and the tankers Boris Butoma and Pechenga.

The naval grouping is expected to be joined by the Russian Northern Fleet's Pyotr Veliky nuclear-powered missile cruiser, which is currently on its way to South Africa's Cape Town, following which it will sail to the Horn of Africa.

Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo, a Russian Navy spokesman, earlier said that the Neustrashimy frigate had protected over 50 commercial ships from pirates off the Somali coast since late October.

Pirates have been increasingly active in the waters off Somalia, where over 120 ships have been attacked so far this year, with around 40 vessels seized. The navies of at least 10 countries are involved in anti-piracy operations off the coast of the East African nation.

The UN Security Council adopted a resolution in December authorizing countries and multinational organizations involved in tackling piracy to "undertake all necessary measures in Somalia, including in its airspace" to prevent "acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea."

Resolution 1851 (2008), which was drafted by the United States, will be in force for one year.

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