Russia raises the stakes in Syria send Warships and Marines
Russia raises the stakes in Syria as nation sends warships and marines into the country
- Decision will raise tensions between Moscow and Washington
- Russia preparing to send marines to Syria to protect personnel
- Analysts say it shows Russia will not tolerate interference in Syria
- Obama says he is working with Putin to find political solution
By Daily Mail Reporter
PUBLISHED: 22:24 GMT, 18 June 2012 | UPDATED: 22:43 GMT, 18 June 2012
Russia is set to raise the stakes in Syria by sending two warships and a team of crack marines to the strife-torn country.
The move is certain to raise tensions between Moscow and Washington that were already running high over Russia's continuing support for President Bashar al-Assad's embattled regime.
Russia said yesterday it was preparing to send marines to Syria in case it needed to protect its personnel and remove equipment from its giant naval base in the Mediterranean port of Tartous.
Tense: Black smoke rises from a building in Joret el-Shayah in the city of Homs. The decision to send two Russian warships to Syria is sure to raise tensions between Moscow and the Washington as the bloodshed continues on the streets of Syria.
Under fire: An image grab from amateur footage released by Shaam News Network which shows smoke rising from buildings in a Homs neighbourhood. President Obama says he is confident a political resolution can be found to end the 15-months of fighting in Syria
But some western analysts saw the planned deployment as a clear signal to the US and its western allies that Moscow would not tolerate any foreign military intervention to end the bloody 15-month crackdown on rebel forces in Syria.
President Obama, sitting stony-faced with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Los Cabos, Mexico, yesterday, insisted both leaders were working on a 'political solution' to stop the bloodshed.
No mention was made of the disagreements that have divided the two countries or on Russia's warships plan.
But in what could be a sign of progress, they agreed the Syrian people should choose their own government.
After two hours of talks on the sidelines of the G-20 economic summit, relations between the two men still appeared tense.
Nervous times: President Obama, sitting stony-faced with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Los Cabos, Mexico at the G-20 summit. Obama said both leaders were working on a 'political solution' to stop the bloodshed
Nevertheless, their comments mark a subtle shift for both countries as they confront the prospect that Russia's main ally in the Middle East could slide into civil war.
Criticised: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been accused of endangering peace in the Middle East with his increasingly bloody crackdown on opponents
One defence source was quoted last night as claiming the Russian marines were being sent to Syria because the Kremlin fears the West is plotting to circumvent the United Nations Security Council by unilaterally agreeing to military action.
Another possibility is that Russia is losing faith in the beleaguered Syrian regime's ability to withstand outside pressures for much longer.
'We must protect out citizens,' Major General Vladimir Gradusov, a deputy Russian air force chief, was quoted as saying last night.
'We won't abandon the Russians and will evacuate them from the conflict zone if necessary,' he added.
Russia remains one of Syria's most steadfast allies and has sold Damascus large quantities of weapons and defence equipment.
However, the US has refused to arm anti-Assad rebels in part to avoid a proxy fight in which Iran, Russia and others arm one side and America and Sunni Arab states arm the other.
Just last week, the Russians denied US claims that it was sending ships to help prop up Assad's government.
Opposition groups estimate 14,000 people have died in violence that the U.S. fears is sliding into civil war.
Bloodshed: Syrian forces pounded a neighbourhood of the eastern city of Deir Ezzor with mortar fire on June 11, killing 10 civilians including a young girl, a monitoring group said