Russia has suspended its participation in NATO's naval anti-terrorist operation in the Mediterranean Sea to focus on anti-piracy activity off Somalia, a spokesman for the Russian Naval General Staff said on Sunday, RIA Novosti reported.
Under Operation Active Endeavour, NATO ships are patrolling the Mediterranean and monitoring shipping to help detect and protect against terrorist activity. The operation has been launched as NATO's response to the terrorist attacks against the United States of 11 September 2001.
"The participation of Russian ships in efforts to provide security for shipping in the area of the Horn of Africa will compensate for Russia's non-participation in Active Endeavour. Today, sailors' lives are threatened to a greater extent in the Gulf of Aden than in the Mediterranean Sea," the admiral said.
The admiral said Russia was cooperating and would continue to cooperate with other countries in efforts to ensure the security of shipping and navigation.
"Currently, two operations are the most topical for us: the fight against piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Operation Black Sea Harmony where the navies of Russia and Turkey are providing security for foreign ships in the Black Sea," he said.
Black Sea Harmony was initiated by Turkey in March 2004 in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions 1373, 1540 and 1566 aimed at deterring terrorism and contributing to the security of the Turkish Straits.
The Russian Navy has maintained a presence off the Horn of Africa with warships operating on a rotation basis. Russia joined international anti-piracy efforts off the Somali coast in October 2008.