More Russian warships are headed toward Syria as fears of a full-blown war in the region escalate.
On Friday Russia’s government-linked news agencies confirmed that two more warships are traveling toward Syria’s western coast.
The ships are from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, heading to the region as part of the country’s efforts to boost its naval presence there. At the same time the United States has sent one submarine and five missile destroyers to the eastern Mediterranean, all armed with cruise missiles capable of striking some of the 50 targets in Syria identified by the Pentagon.
Despite Russian warships being dispatched to the region, Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed hesitancy to enter the conflict. While President Obama has condemned an alleged chemical weapons attack against civilians and called for a congressional vote on military intervention, Putin has said proof of the chemical attack isn’t concrete.
It isn’t known if Russian warships could come into conflict with American ships, but Russia has been a strong supporter of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. Russia has also repeatedly warned the United States not to take unilateral military action, saying any decision must come through the U.N. Security Council.
Russia has said its warships are being dispatched to the region to evacuate civilians from its military base in Syria. A source from the naval command in St. Petersburgh said the Russian warship Nikolai Filchenkov was given a special mission, picking up unspecified cargo after leaving the Ukranian port city of Sevastopol.
“The ship will make call in Novorossiisk, where it will take on board special cargo and set off for the designated area of its combat duty in the eastern Mediterranean,” a source said.
As the Russian warships head toward the region, tensions between the United States and Russia continue to grow. The speaker of Russia’s national legislature was rebuffed in plans to travel Washington to convince US lawmakers against military action in Syria. Sergei Naryshkin, speaker of the State Duma, said it was “deplorable” that House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to meet with the Russian delegation