An exercise cruise, which will be carried out by men-of-war and units of the Caspian Flotilla this August, "poses no threat to other nations." Alexander Yakovenko, the official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, confirmed this in an exclusive interview with RIA Novosti on Wednesday.
According to him, Russia's presence, including the military one, in the Caspian region "is an important factor greatly contributing to the regional security and stability." Yakovenko said that objectives of the exercise were "to test the readiness of Russian Navy units to carry out operations to counteract international terrorists; to cooperate with other regional countries to suppress arms and drugs smuggling, poaching, piracy and to ensure safe navigation and industrial activities on the Caspian Sea." The high-ranking diplomat also said that "all the aforesaid objectives are now extremely important for the region, especially if one takes into account the region's vicinity to Afghanistan where the anti-terrorist operation is still continuing." Yakovenko stated that the exercise would include both land and naval operations to be carried out with the participation of observers and forces representing other Caspian nations. The first stage is "to drill the reinforcement of security and defence of the Flotilla's facilities in order to prevent a terrorist attack." Yakovenko said that "drilling such a scenario is important primarily in connection with the recent events in the Kaspiisk town on May 9th when a terrorist act claimed the lives of both servicemen and civilians, including children." Units will simultaneously carry out a training operation to find and destroy terrorist bases, as well as arms and drugs caches on hard-to-reach Caspian islands. This scenario envisages that Caspian Flotilla men-of-war will block islands located in the Northern part of the Caspian Sea, the diplomat said. The operation to block an armed unit furnishing armed resistance will also directly involve Kazakh air defence aircraft.
According to Yakovenko, the focus of the second stage of the exercise cruise is to secure civil navigation from possible terrorist attacks, pirates and other organised criminal groups. The units will drill the detection of a vessel with armed people on-board, its arrest and subsequent examination by an inspection team and its escorting to the nearest Russian port.
In the Northern part of the Caspian Sea, the Russian units will carry out a training operation to secure industrial regions and facilities, which will involve the Russian Energy and Transport Ministries, as well as the Lukoil open stock company. Yakovenko said that the exercise also had such objectives as ensuring a facility's security, searching and rescuing people in the open sea, rendering help to a vessel in distress and clearing out oil slicks.
A part of the Caspian Flotilla will assist naval units of the Russian Frontier Service to guard bio resources and fight organised poaching in the northern part of the Caspian Sea, he said.
The final stage of the exercise cruise is the drilling of joint actions to help a vessel damaged as a result of a terrorist attack and to save people at sea, the Official Spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry concluded.