Russia Deploys Warships to Mediterranean

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Russia delivered on its promise to deploy warships to the Mediterranean Sea, a plan that's been in the works for decades.

The deployment marks the first fleet of Russian warships to the Mediterranean since the Soviet era.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday the 16 battleships were not intended to threaten any nation but rather enhance Russia's "national security."

"This is a strategically important region and we have tasks to carry out there to provide for the national security of the Russian Federation," Reuters quoted Putin.

Russia maintains a naval base at Syria's Tartus port. Israel continues to carefully monitor Russia's interaction with Syria. Ronen Solomon described the potential route of the S-300 anti-missile batteries from Russia to Syria. 

According to the report, Syria needs 10 S-300 batteries "to hermetically seal its airspace." Russia says the contract calls for six S-300s and 144 surface-to-air missiles to be delivered at a time "suitable to Russia."

Some saw the Russian navy's large-scale drill in March as part of Putin's efforts to display his country's military prowess.

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