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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia sends another two warships to tackle Somali pirates

RIA Novosti

16/01/2009 11:46 MOSCOW, January 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russia has sent two Black Sea Fleet vessels to take part in an anti-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden, off northeast Africa, a Defense Ministry source said on Friday.

"The vessels will soon pass the Bosporus and Dardanelles Straits on route to the Somali coast through the Suez Canal," the source said.

The Yamal and the Azov large landing ships are carrying naval infantry units, the source added.

Meanwhile, spokesman for the Russian Navy Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo, said that the Yamal and the Azov will also join up with Russian warships in the Indian Ocean, including the Pyotr Veliky nuclear-powered missile cruiser, for the INDRA-2009 exercise with the Indian Navy in late January.

The first Russian warship, the Neustrashimy (Fearless) frigate from the Baltic Fleet, had been deployed off the Horn of Africa since the end of October to protect commercial ships from pirate attacks.

On January 7, it was replaced by Russia's Pacific Fleet destroyer the Admiral Vinogradov, which arrived in the Gulf of Aden together with a tugboat and two fuel tankers.

The International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Malaysia said on Wednesday that the destroyer had assisted in preventing a pirate attack on a Dutch container ship.

The Admiral Vinogradov is currently escorting two tankers under the Russian flag along the Somali coast and its helicopter is conducting maritime reconnaissance over the area.

Pirates have been increasingly active in the waters off Somalia, where over 120 ships were attacked in 2008, with around 40 vessels seized. Up to 20 warships from the navies of at least 10 countries are involved in anti-piracy operations off the coast of the East African nation.

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