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    Russian missile cruiser begins patrols around Spitsbergen

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    A Russian missile cruiser started on Tuesday patrols in the area around Norway's Arctic archipelago of Spitsbergen, to ensure security of Russia's maritime navigation in Arctic, a Navy spokesman said.

    MOSCOW, July 22 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian missile cruiser started on Tuesday patrols in the area around Norway's Arctic archipelago of Spitsbergen, to ensure security of Russia's maritime navigation in Arctic, a Navy spokesman said.

    "The Marshal Ustinov, a Slava-class missile cruiser, took over the patrol mission from a Russian ASW ship, the Severomorsk, which sailed to the Barents Sea to participate in the Northern Eagle 2008 joint U.S.-Russian naval exercise," Capt. 1st rank Igor Dygalo said.

    The Russian Navy resumed on July 14 a military presence around the Arctic Ocean, including the area of Spitsbergen.

    Dygalo said Russian warships will strictly observe international law during patrols in the Arctic region, including the provisions of the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention.

    The Marshal Ustinov is the second Slava-class missile cruiser in the Russian Navy. She was launched in 1982 and commissioned with the Northern Fleet in 1986.

    The cruiser has been designed as a surface strike ship with some anti-air and ASW capability. It is fitted with sixteen SS-N-12 Sandbox nuclear-capable supersonic anti-ship missiles, which are mounted in four pairs on either side of the superstructure.

    In addition, the cruiser reportedly carries 64 SA-N-6 Grumble long-range surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and 40 SA-N-4 Gecko short-range SAMs.

    NATO experts had dubbed Russian combat ships of this class "the killer of aircraft carriers," as it can carry 1,000kg of high-explosives, or a tactical nuclear warhead, out to a range of 300 nautical miles.

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