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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Russian ship passes Suez on anti-piracy mission; Indians not welcomed by Somalia?

After several weeks of seemingly breathless anticipation by the media, a Russian ship passes Suez on anti-piracy mission:
A Russian warship was moving through the Suez Canal Tuesday to join military vessels from other nations protecting shipping in pirate-infested waters off Somalia, a navy official said.

Russian Navy spokesman Capt. Igor Dygalo said the guided missile frigate Neustrashimy (Intrepid) will join warships from other nations surrounding an arms-laden Ukrainian
"The Russian ship will fulfill the task of minimizing the threat of pirate attacks," Dygalo said in a statement. He added that it will "join the action of foreign navy ships currently controlling the situation around the ship."
Dygalo said that the level of cooperation between the Neustrashimy and foreign warships in the area -"from coordination of actions to concrete practical measures" - will be determined by Russian diplomats and military officials.

In the meantime, the presence of an Indian navy ship stirs up a bit of controversy with the representative of the putative government of Somali, as set out here:
“India has no legal framework to order its navy to intervene in the waters of Somalia because there is no agreement between India and Somalia and also the Resolution of 1817 doesn’t allow them,” says Ambassador Ebyan Mahamed Salah.

India has once held back from signing the agreement presumably because it was felt there was no need but the hijacking of the Stolt Valor and the risk to other Indian merchant ships and sailors has put a different complexion to the problem.

The navy is now reported to be considering anti piracy patrols off the Gulf of Aden in concert with other countries in the region. These patrols could be coordinated with the patrols being carried out by the US led task force now in the area.
An Indian dhow with 13 sailors was recently nabbed by pirates, but may have also been freed by Somali militia, as set out here:
Armed Somali men, helping out coastguards in the African waters, have managed to free an Indian cargo ship with 13 sailors on board, after it was hijacked by pirates off the northern coast of Somalia.

Four of the armed pirates, who had come in speedboats to hijack the Indian cargo vessel, have been captured in the encounter, a senior minister from Somalia was quoted as saying.

There were no reports of any injuries.

Earlier on Tuesday, an official of the International Maritime Bureau in Kuala Lumpur had said that pirates seized the ship which was en-route to Somalia and hijacked it south of Socotra island over the weekend.
The Indian government had dispatched a powerful stealth warship to the area as momentum has been growing for coordinated international response to the spate of hijacking being unleashed by Somali pirates using speed boats.
According to this, the U.S. is "keen" on India's involvement:
With India rushing its warship to Gulf of Aden after pirates attacked cargo ships carrying its nationals, the US says it is keen to partner with New Delhi to jointly patrol the high seas off the African coast to deter the armed outlaws.

"The Indian ships presence in Gulf of Aden will provide both of us an opportunity to work together (against pirates) and we are looking forward to it," said US Navy Captain Kenneth J Norton on board USS Ronald Reagan, the world's largest warship, as it sailed in the Arabian Sea about 130 miles off Goa coast.

Washington's views on Indian warship patrolling the region comes in the wake of over 35 incidents of piracy attacks on cargo ships in Gulf of Aden in the last three months.

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