Russian naval task force starts deployment in Caribbean

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Russia's naval task force from the Northern Fleet has started deployment in the southern Caribbean in preparation for joint exercises with the Venezuelan navy, a Russian Navy spokesman said on Monday.
MOSCOW, December 1 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's naval task force from the Northern Fleet has started deployment in the southern Caribbean in preparation for joint exercises with the Venezuelan navy, a Russian Navy spokesman said on Monday.

The task force, led by the Pyotr Veliky missile cruiser, is on a planned visit that follows a two-month tour of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, which saw Russian ships visiting Libya, Turkey and France.

"The Northern Fleet's task force left the Venezuelan port of La Guaira at 15:00 Moscow time [12:00 GMT] and began deployment in the southern part of the Caribbean," Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said.

Russian and Venezuelan warships will start in a few hours a series of joint naval exercises, dubbed VenRus-2008, in the Caribbean, involving sea rescue operations, maneuvering, and live-ammunition artillery drills.

The Russian naval group also includes the Udaloy class destroyer Admiral Chabanenko and two support vessels with a total of about 1,600 naval infantrymen on board.

Three frigates, a transport amphibious vessel, four patrol boats, four coastal defense vessels, several naval aviation units, and a Su-30MK2 fighter squadron will take part in the exercise on the Venezuelan side.

The two-day exercises will be conducted in line with bilateral agreements and in accordance with international maritime law. They will be held in an area beyond Venezuela's territorial waters, about 150 nautical miles from the South American country's coast.

All shipping in the area will be halted for the duration of the exercises.

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