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Russia, Syria’s most powerful ally, is sending a large anti-submarine ship and a missile cruiser into the Eastern Mediterranean, as the U.S. moves toward a military response in Syria.
Russian president Vladimir Putin says the naval deployment is required for protecting Russian national security interests and not a threat to any nation.
Defense experts say the warships could give the Syrian regime early warning of missile launches, an possibly jam radars and navigational systems.
Lee Willet, editor of IHS Jane’s Navy International, told Reuters that this is gunboat diplomacy meant to have a political impact.
Russia is one of the biggest suppliers of weapons to the Syrian regime and it has resisted international calls for sanctions and other Western interventions in the Syrian crisis.
So what is Russia’s interest in Syria?