Ambassador: Russia "considering" working with EU anti-piracy fleet
considering tasking a warship to work with a European Union fleet intended to
combat piracy off the coast of Somalia, Russia's ambassador to the EU said
"We are considering the possibility of coordinated efforts between Russia and the EU in combating the ever-increasing acts of naval piracy along the coast of Somalia," Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov told journalists in Brussels.
"Should (an EU security) mission take place, we would certainly be willing to coordinate our efforts in that area," he said.
Russia has already despatched a frigate carrying both sailors and marines to the area, but it is not yet clear when it will arrive, he said.
Other reports have identified the vessel as the Neustrashimy, the most modern frigate in the Russian Baltic fleet.
On Wednesday, EU defence ministers meeting informally in the French town of Deauville agreed that the bloc should send a fleet of three warships, one supply ship and three spotter aircraft to the Somalian coast to operate under UN mandate there.
The EU has already set up a cell in Brussels tasked with coordinating searches and the deployment of naval resources.
The EU fleet could become operational as early as December, French government sources said.
The call for military action follows the September 26 pirate takeover of a Kenya-bound cargo ship carrying 33 T-72 tanks, armoured personnel carriers and munitions.
The 20-member crew was also taken hostage.
Chizhov stressed that the tanks, while built according to Soviet designs, had been produced in Ukraine, not Russia, as originally reported.
His comments came despite the row between the EU and Russia over the latter's war with Georgia in August - a war which led the EU to freeze talks on a new partnership agreement with Russia.
Russian troops are set to pull out of Georgia by October 10, leaving "no reason why (the re-opening of talks) should not happen before the end of the month," Chizhov said.