Rus­sia ships ‘chase away’ Dutch sub­ma­rine in Mediter­ranean

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

Rus­sia’s de­fence min­istry says two of its navy de­stroy­ers forced away a Dutch sub­ma­rine to stop it spy­ing on an air­craft car­rier in the Mediter­ranean.

The sub was 20km from the Ad­mi­ral Kuznetsov at the time of the in­ci­dent, the mil­i­tary said.

Rus­sia sent a flotilla to the eastern Mediter­ranean ahead of an ex­pected re­sump­tion of air strikes in Syria.

Nato said it was mon­i­tor­ing the ships in a “mea­sured and re­spon­si­ble way”.

An of­fi­cial said the Western mil­i­tary al­liance would not go into de­tails but said it had been ob­serv­ing the fleet for some weeks.

The Rus­sian flotilla’s con­spic­u­ous voyage from Severo­morsk in north­ern Rus­sia, through the North Sea and the English Chan­nel and into the Mediter­ranean, has rung alarm bells among Nato al­lies.

There was no con­fir­ma­tion of the Rus­sian mil­i­tary’s claim of an in­ci­dent, and the Dutch mil­i­tary tweeted that it would give no com­ment on sub­ma­rine op­er­a­tions.

It was also not im­me­di­ately clear where the in­ci­dent took place. How­ever, one re­port placed the Ad­mi­ral Kuznetsov around 100km northwest of the Syr­ian port of Latakia.

Rus­sian de­fence spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that two an­ti­sub­ma­rine ships, Severo­morsk and Vice-Ad­mi­ral Ku­lakov, had “eas­ily iden­ti­fied the sub­ma­rine 20km away us­ing the stan­dard onboard hy­dro-acous­tics sys­tems and data ob­tained from anti-sub­ma­rine he­li­copters”.

Al­though the sub had tried to evade sur­veil­lance, the ships tracked it for more than an hour and “forced it to leave the area of the air­craft car­rier-led group”, he said, con­demn­ing the Dutch sub’s ma­noeu­vres as “clumsy and danger­ous”.

Al­though there was no of­fi­cial re­ac­tion from the Dutch mil­i­tary, De­fence Min­is­ter Jea­nine Hen­nis-Plass­chaert said she thought it wise “not to go along with the Rus­sian rhetoric”.

Dutch marine ex­pert Jaime Kar­re­man said that if true the in­ci­dent was un­prece­dented. “It’s pretty shock­ing that a sub­ma­rine on a se­cret mis­sion is dis­cov­ered,” he told Dutch TV.

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