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Russian military destroyer enters Malta docks

Vice-Admiral Kulakov berths at Dock No. 6

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
10 July 2014, 11:32am
The Vice Admiral Kulakov at Dock No. 6
The Vice Admiral Kulakov at Dock No. 6
The Vice Admiral Kulakov
The Vice Admiral Kulakov
The Vice-Admiral Kulakov, a Udaloy-class destroyer of the Russian Navy, has berthed in Dock No. 6 of the Malta Shipyards.

The entrance of a Russian navy vessel to the dockyards is just the latest in a series of visits by American and Russian military vessels that would be, ostensibly in breach of the Maltese Constitution were it not for the lenient approach of the administrations of the last 20 years.

The Maltese Consitution clearly defines its neutrality from “the superpowers”, a reference to the pre-1989 era when the world was split between two major political blocs.

But the world seems to have changed since then, with Malta unchanged in the way it defines its basic principle of foreign policy: neutrality.

The Vice-Admiral Kulakov was commissioned in 1982 and was on combat duty with the Northern Fleet until March 1991, when she was retired for repairs that lasted more than 18 years. The ship returned to the Severomorsk base on December 7, 2010 and is to return to active duty.

In 2012 the destroyer was escorting commercial convoys as a part of the anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden. In July 2012, Vice-Admiral Kulakov was leading a flotilla of the Northern Fleet to the Eastern Mediterranean to conduct naval drills, close to the Syrian coast

In April 2014, HMS Dragon was deployed to waters north of Scotland to track the Kulakov as it sailed near the United Kingdom amid heightened tensions between Russia and the UK.

HMS Dragon monitored the movements of the Russian ship as she approached British waters in what has been described by a defence spokesman as a “well established and standard response”.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, said: “Recent events have increased awareness of Russian military activity, but we have always routinely intercepted, identified and escorted Russian air and naval assets that transit international airspace and waters within the UK’s ‘area of interest’. The Royal Navy and Royal Air Force will remain alert and ready to intercept any non-Nato forces in the area.”

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.