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Russian warships back in Portuguese waters

The “largest deployment of Russian vessels since the Cold War” was back in waters under Portuguese jurisdiction over the weekend after months of bombardments in Syria, in support of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

According to naval sources, the fleet that steamed through the English channel and down past Portugal three months ago was on its way home.

Four Portuguese ships were “mobilized” to accompany massive aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, and five of the battleships that sailed with it in October (click here).

The fleet entered Portugal’s economic exclusive zone at 7pm last Friday, and from that moment was trailed by two launches “based in the Algarve” and the Navy’s ocean-patrol boat Figueira da Foz, writes Público.

Later, the frigate Bartolomeu Dias joined the procession, following the Russian’s until they left Portuguese waters at 10pm on Sunday.

Navy spokesman Commander Pedro Coelho Dias told the paper it was “not an habitual passage” but one “undertaken under the terms of international maritime law” due to the fact that it took place in the 200-mile area off the coast that falls under national jurisdiction.

The exclusive economic zone runs to just 12-miles off the coast, the paper explains.

Once the Russian ships – which included the nuclear-powered Pyotr Velikiy and anti submarine destroyer Alexander Shabalin – left Portuguese waters, NATO vessels took up the job of ‘accompanying them’ on their way.

What hasn’t been explained is there whereabouts of the three ‘missing ships’ from the original deployment, which presumably have remained behind in Syria.

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Photo: www.marinha.pt