Russia is sending a reconnaissance ship to the eastern Mediterranean, Interfax news agency reported on Monday, as the United States prepares for a possible military strike in Syria.
U.S. President Barack Obama has said he will seek congressional authorisation for punitive action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after what Washington said was a sarin gas attack that killed over 1,400 people. Russia is a staunch backer of Assad in his war with rebels trying to topple him.
The reconnaissance ship left Russia's naval base in the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Sevastopol late on Sunday on a mission "to gather current information in the area of the escalating conflict", the Interfax report quoted an unidentified military source as saying.
The Defence Ministry declined immediate comment but Interfax said the vessel, the SSV-201 Priazovye, would operate separately from a Russian navy unit already stationed in the Mediterranean.
Last week, the ministry said new warships were being sent to the Mediterranean but described this as a routine rotation of ships under a permanent deployment which Moscow says is needed to protect national security interests. Read more >>