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29 Mar, 2009 10:31

Russian ships sail off to fight Somali pirates

Another group of Russian Navy ships are heading to the seas off East Africa to counter the growing threat of piracy.

It's the second fleet Russia has dispatched to take part in international military operations against Somali gunmen.

The ‘Admiral Panteleyev’ destroyer, accompanied by two tankers – ‘Izhora’ and ‘Irkut’ – and a tugboat sailed off from to the Indian Ocean from the Far Eastern port of Vladivostok on Sunday.

The new unit will replace those that have been operating in the Gulf of Aden – anti-submarine destroyer ‘Admiral Vinogradov,' tankers ‘Pechenga’ and ‘Boris Butoma,' and tugboat ‘Fotiy Krylov,' Ria Novosti news agency reports.

The fleet is set to dock in Somalia on April 26, before starting escorting and patrolling missions.

According to Russian Pacific Fleet Head, Vice Admiral Konstantin Sidenko, this group of ships will not be the last one that Russia sends to fight piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

In recent months, there have been a number of high-profile hijackings in the region, with the pirates only releasing the vessels after multi-million dollar ransoms were paid.