January 4, 2009 / 2:12 PM / 11 years ago

Russia wants warships stationed around the world

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s military leaders approved a plan by the navy on Sunday to station warships permanently in friendly ports across the globe.

Underfunded since the 1991 break up of the Soviet Union, the Russian navy has been reasserting itself over the last year by chasing Somali pirates around the coast of east Africa and steaming across the Atlantic to visit allies in South America.

“The General Staff has given its position on this issue and it fully supports the position of the (Navy’s) main committee,” deputy chief of staff Colonel-General Anatoly Nogovitsyn told RIA Novosti news agency.

A resurgent navy has become central to a strategy for Russia — which enjoyed a decade of economic revival from 1998 — to project itself in foreign affairs.

In August a Russian diplomat said the navy was to make more use of a Syrian Mediterranean Sea port. Last month a Russian warship cruised off Cuba after visiting South America for the first time since 1991.

Nogovitsyn said Russia was directly negotiating with foreign governments to station warships at bases around the world permanently, although he declined to give exact details.

“Nobody can predict where problems could flare up,” he said. “What we need are permanent bases, but these are very costly. They need to be considered very carefully.”

RIA Novosti wrote that the Russian navy was already in negotiations to build a permanent Black Sea Port in the Russia-backed breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia.

Writing by James Kilner; Editing by Charles Dick

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