Russia to send heavy nuke cruiser to fight Somali pirates

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Moscow, Nov 23 (UNI) Russia plans to send its heavy nuclear missile cruiser Pyotr Veliky to the area of the Horn of Africa in the near future to fight Somali pirates.

''It is probable that the heavy nuclear missile cruiser Pyotr Veliky will enter the area of the African Horn in the near future after fulfilling tasks off the Venezuelan coast, that is to stage a joint Russian-Venezuelan exercise,'' Itar-Tass news agency quoted Russian Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo as saying today.

Currently, Russia's Neustrashimy missile frigate is escorting an international convoy of nine vessels past the Horn of Africa to protect them from Somali pirate attacks.

''The Russian Navy will continue its presence in the Horn of Africa region with the aim of providing safe shipping,'' Mr Dygalo said.

On November 20, Russian Navy's Commander Admiral Vladimir Vysotsy said Russia will deploy its warships off the coast of East Africa on a regular basis to prevent pirate attacks on merchant ships.

Mr Vysotsy said the reason for the move was the current developments off the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden, where Somali pirates have intensified their activity.

Somali ambassador to Moscow said earlier this week, Somalia would like to see more Russian warships helping the country fight piracy off its coast.

UNI XC RJ UCS1843

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