Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Russian Ship Allegedly carrying Mi-25s To Syria Turns Back

     From The Telegraph:

The British marine insurer Standard Club said it had withdrawn cover from all the ships owned by Femco, a Russian cargo line, including the MV Alaed.
"We were made aware of the allegations that the Alaed was carrying munitions destined for Syria," the company said in a statement. "We have already informed the ship owner that their insurance cover ceased automatically in view of the nature of the voyage."
British security officials confirmed they had told Standard Club that providing insurance to the shipment was likely to be a breach of European Union sanctions against the Syrian regime.
They said they were continuing to monitor the ship, which has been the subject of a fierce international row since US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week revealed it was adding to the arsenal of weaponry available for Mr Assad to use against rebellious Syrian towns.
"We have various ways of keeping track of this ship and that is what we are doing," a source told The Daily Telegraph.
The MV Alaed picked up its cargo of Mi25 helicopters – known as "flying tanks" – from the Russian port of Kaliningrad, where they had been sent to the state-owned manufacturer Mil's "Factory 150" for servicing and repairs.
They were originally sold to the Syrian government by Moscow, its major arms supplier, at the end of the Soviet era.
The ship headed south through the North Sea towards the English Channel on its way to the Mediterranean and, most likely, the Syrian port of Tartous, also home to a Russian naval base.
But under sanctions announced last year, the EU has banned not only exporting arms to Syria but also providing related services such as insurance.
As first revealed by The Sunday Telegraph at the weekend, the US notified the UK government that the insurance was British last week.
As it neared the Dutch coast, the authorities there also hailed the ship, the security sources said, and it made an abrupt turn, heading towards Scotland. It was last night now off the coast of the Hebrides but with no insurance covering the ship security sources say it may now have to return to port.
In their attempts to bombard rebel towns into submission, Assad regime forces have increasingly brought up helicopters, strafing the towns of Haffa and Rastan last week.

     This coming after the announcement of 2 amphibs being sent to Syria would indicate Russia is taking a more active role in supporting Assad. Robert Beckhusen over at the Danger Room theorizes that this could be a sign of increasing U.S.-Russian cooperation over Syria. 
     However, it's my belief that the MV Alaed turned back because Russia does not want to risk international humiliation when it is found they are actively supporting Syria. Back in March there was a rumor, that Russia had sent a unit of "anti-terrorist marines" to Syria. While this was nothing more than a rumor, if true could indicate that Russia is actively fighting on behalf of Assad. I mentioned yesterday that Syria owes Russia 6 billion dollars for arms purchased, and Putin will not allow Assad to fall until Russia is paid. 
    Either way this is a developing situation that we should watch closely, as if the United States enters the civil war, the crap will hit the fan in the Mid-East.

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