January 21st, 2008 16:50 EST
Russian naval task force started exercises in the northern Atlantic
A Russian naval task force started exercises in the northern Atlantic on Monday, a Navy spokesman said.
The task force, consisting of the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, the Udaloy-Class destroyers Admiral Levchenko and Admiral Chabanenko, as well as auxiliary vessels, is currently on a two-month tour of duty in the Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic.
The flagship of Russia`s Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva guided missile cruiser, joined up with Russian naval warships in the Mediterranean on Friday to participate in the current maneuvers.
"During the exercise, the Moskva guided missile cruiser will conduct live fire practice at dummy airborne and sea targets," Igor Drygalo said.
Russian warships will also practice interoperability with naval aviation and strategic bombers for several days.
The operation is the first large-scale Russian Navy exercise in the Atlantic for the past 15 years. All the combat ships and aircraft involved are carrying a full combat ammunition load, the Navy official said.
The Commander of Russia`s Northern Fleet Vice-Admiral Nikolai Maksimov, who is heading the task force, earlier said that the current tour of duty to the Mediterranean, which started on December 5, was aimed at ensuring Russia`s naval presence "in key operational areas of the world`s oceans" and establishing conditions for secure Russian maritime navigation.