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    NATO closely monitors Russian warships on route to Caribbean

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    A long-range sortie of the Russian naval task group to the Caribbean has drawn close attention from NATO, a Navy spokesman said on Saturday.

    MOSCOW, September 27 (RIA Novosti) - A long-range sortie of the Russian naval task group to the Caribbean has drawn close attention from NATO, a Navy spokesman said on Saturday.

    A naval task force from Russia's Northern Fleet, comprising the nuclear-powered missile cruiser Pyotr Velikiy, the large ASW ship Admiral Chabanenko, and support ships, left a naval base in northern Russia early Monday to conduct training exercises in the Atlantic, including joint naval drills with the Venezuelan navy in November.

    "Patrol aircraft from the Norwegian Navy have flown four times near the Russian task group in the Norwegian Sea," Capt. 1st rank Igor Dygalo said, adding that the movements of the Russian convoy are also closely monitored by the U.K. HMS Argyll frigate.

    During the current tour of duty the Russian warships would participate in joint naval exercises with the Venezuelan navy in the Caribbean on November 10-14, in line with the 2008 training program and in order to expand military cooperation with foreign navies.

    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who recently visited Russia, earlier confirmed that Venezuela would hold joint naval exercises with Russian warships in the Caribbean and said the Russian navy would receive a warm welcome in the Latin American country.

    Russia announced last year that its Navy had resumed and would build up a constant presence in different regions of the world's oceans.

    A task force from the Northern Fleet, consisting of the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, the Udaloy-Class large AWS ships Admiral Levchenko and Admiral Chabanenko, as well as auxiliary vessels, conducted from December 2007 to February 2008 a two-month tour of duty in the Mediterranean Sea and North Atlantic.

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