November 23, 2012
In a move revealing the hostilities in Gaza may be far from over, Russia has sent a detachment of ships from the Black Sea Fleet to the coast of the Gaza Strip to evacuate Russians if the conflict escalates.
“The detachment of combat ships of the Black Sea Fleet, including the Guards missile cruiser Moskva, the patrol ship Smetliviy, large landing ships Novocherkassk and Saratov, the sea tug MB-304 and the big sea tanker Ivan Bubnov, got the order to remain in the designated area of the Eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea for a possible evacuation of Russian citizens from the area of the Gaza strip in case of escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” the main command of the Black Sea Fleet told The Voice of Russia  early today.
The radio station quoted the Russian Navy as stating “the crews of the ships will continue their routine combat training, maintenance of equipment and weapons.”
Israel has imposed a maritime blockade  of the Gaza Strip and it is unclear how the Russians would evacuate their nationals if they decided to do so.
On Thursday, the Russian government praised a ceasefire agreement between the Palestinians and Israel and called for an end to a blockade of the Palestinian territories.
“We believe it is necessary to proceed further to achieve stable and lasting settlement, which guarantees security of Israel and peaceful life of Gaza residents as a part of Palestinian territories, without any blockade and isolation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich  told reporters.