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    Russia to continue anti-piracy missions in Gulf of Aden - Medvedev

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    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reiterated on Thursday that Russian warships would continue patrolling commercial shipping routes off the Somali coast.

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reiterated on Thursday that Russian warships would continue patrolling commercial shipping routes off the Somali coast.

    Russia joined international anti-piracy efforts in the area in October 2008 with warships operating on a rotation basis.

    "I believe that we will continue to fulfill our international obligations in this [the Gulf of Aden] region for two reasons," Medvedev said.

    "Primarily, we must protect our commercial ships and, under agreements with other countries, the ships sailing under foreign flags. Secondly, it helps [our naval personnel] to maintain combat readiness," the president said.

    A task force led by the Northern Fleet's Admiral Levchenko, an Udaloy class guided-missile destroyer, arrived in the Gulf of Aden on July 3 to join the international anti-piracy mission near Somalia. The Russian naval group also includes the Olekma tanker and the SB-36 tugboat of Russia's Black Sea Fleet.

    Admiral Levchenko has successfully escorted 13 commercial convoys with a total of 57 vessels through pirate-infested waters off the Somali coast since its arrival in the area.

    A Pacific Fleet task force led by the Admiral Vinogradov destroyer will replace the current naval group in December.

    According to the London-based International Maritime Bureau (IMB), the number of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden decreased in the first half of 2010 by 34 percent year-on-year mostly due to the ongoing anti-piracy operation off the Somali coast.

    However, Somali pirates have been reported to shift their attacks from their own coast and were responsible for 44% of the 289 piracy incidents on the world's seas in the first nine months of 2010, according to IMB.

    MOSCOW, November 25 (RIA Novosti)

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