Russia says it plans to send a permanent fleet of warships into the Mediterranean Sea for the first time in two decades.
The commander in chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Viktor Chirkov, said on March 17 that five to six ships from the Black Sea fleet would be permanently assigned to the Mediterranean to protect Russian interests in the region.
News reports say that the core of the flotilla will be made up of cruisers and frigates.
Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has previously proposed a Russian presence in the Mediterranean.
After the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1992, Moscow recalled its Mediterranean fleet of up to 50 ships.
Critics of re-deploying a naval force to the Mediterranean say the Russian Navy lacks the capacity for such an operation.