22:03 GMT26 January 2020
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    NATO launched its new maritime operation in the Mediterranean with the announced purpose of increasing security amid the anti-terror fight. Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that its aircraft carrier group, also deployed in the area, was shadowed by a Dutch submarine after it became known that it was ready to strike Daesh in Syria.

    On Wednesday, NATO launched its new maritime operation named Sea Guardian which purportedly aims to increase security amid the anti-terror fight in the Mediterranean.

    According to the press release of the Alliance, Operation Sea Guardian has three core missions: maritime situational awareness, counter-terrorism and capacity building.

    "Additional tasks could be added if decided by the Allies, including upholding freedom of navigation, conducting interdiction tasks, countering proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and protection of critical infrastructure," it states.

    Three NATO ships and two submarines, the Italian frigate ITS Aviere, the Bulgarian frigate BGS Verni, the Turkish frigate TCG Gemlik, the Greek submarine HS Papanikolis and the Spanish submarine ESPS Mistral, are set to conduct the first patrols in the central Mediterranean.

    Air support to Operation Sea Guardian will include rotational patrols by Maritime Patrol Aircrafts (MPAs) from Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

    The first patrols will run through November 17, "with other patrols on the forge and to occur according with approved schedule of operations," the statement reads.

    Also on Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that its aircraft carrier group deployed in the Sea was shadowed by a Dutch submarine. However the NATO vessel was chased away after trying to monitor Russian military ships.

    "On November 9 at 06:50 a.m. Moscow Time [03:50 GMT], Russia's Severomorsk and Vice-Admiral Kulakov anti-submarine destroyers detected a diesel-electric submarine of the Dutch navy (presumably Walrusklasse) which tried to approach and track the aircraft carrier group of the Northern Fleet," Russian Defense Ministry's spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, said on Wednesday.

    Konashenkov underscored that the destroyers detected the sub at a distance of 20 kilometers using sonar systems and information provided by Ka-27 anti-submarine helicopters.

    He further warned that "such 'clumsy' attempts to maneuver in close vicinity to the Russian ships could have led to serious navigation accidents."

    The incident came shortly after it became known that Russia's Navy's aircraft carrier group was readying to launch a strike targeting Daesh terrorists in the province of Aleppo.

    On Tuesday, Russian media reported that the group is to carry out an attack in the next 24 hours and likely to use Kalibr cruise missiles to hit militants outside of Aleppo, and not the residential areas.

    "The group's main goal is to carry out missile strikes on terrorists outside of Aleppo that are attempting to get into the city", the media then quoted a source within Russia's Ministry of Defense as saying.

    The source also said that Kalibr cruise missiles will be used in the strikes, but did not specify from which ships the missiles will be launched.

    He also stressed that the strikes will avoid the city of Aleppo to prevent civilian casualties, because terrorists continue to use the city's residents as human shields.

    Amid no news on the planned strike, Russian parliamentarian Franz Klintsevich, First Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Defense and Security at the Federation Council (upper house of parliament) suggested that the pause in Russia's military activities might be due to the victory of Donald Trump.

    "Russia was supposed to launch an active military operation in Syria however it has not happened," the parliamentarian told Russian media on Wednesday.

    "I regard it as a complementary gesture of our leadership in the context of Donald Trump's victory in the presidential race. It is a signal of the need for further consultations," he further explained.

    Franz Klintsevich however said that the presence of Russia's group in the Mediterranean, which includes Russia's 'Admiral Kuznetsov' aircraft carrier, 'Pyotr Veliky' nuclear power guided missile cruiser and two destroyers signifies that it will launch a strike on the militants.

    "There is a 100% guarantee that there will be strikes and they will be agreed upon with the American military. Regardless all the tough rhetoric, the dialogue between the servicemen of the two countries has never stopped in order to avoid any military incidents," the parliamentarian said.

    He suggested that the two countries will eventually change their tone with each other, something he also attributed to the victory of the Republican candidate.

    Klintsevich noted that even though Trump will enter the office only in January next year, the current US leadership nevertheless has to adhere to the opinion of the President Elect while undertaking any serious steps in its foreign policy.


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    cruise missile strikes, maritime, submarine, operation, Admiral Kuznetsov, Sea Guardian operation, NATO, Daesh, Syria, Russia, Mediterranean Sea
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