Russian landing ships Azov and Nikolai Filchenkov left Novorossiysk for Syrian port Tartus with special-task marine units and several combat vehicles onboard, reported Interfax on Monday referring to the source in Russian General Staff.
As for him, "marines are tasked to secure the ships during passage of the Turkish Straits and port calls".
"The ships will pass the Straits in December 26-27 in order to join the Black Sea Fleet (BSF) task unit, comprising missile cruiser Moskva and destroyer Smetlivy, on December 28", added the source.
"Those warships will escort Azov and Nikolai Filchenkov underway to the Syrian port Tartus where Russian Navy's maintenance base is located. The ships are to evacuate Russian citizens from Syria in case of the conflict escalation", said the interviewee.
According to him, missile cruiser Moskva and destroyer Smetlivy on Monday have finished the visit to Greek port Piraeus, replenished water and food supplies, and continued accomplishing combat tasks in the Northeast Mediterranean.
Project 1171 landing ship Nikolai Filchenkov displaces 4,650 tons. Her length is 113.1 meters, beam is 15.6 meters, draft is 4.5 meters, speed is 16.5 knots, fuel range is 10,000 miles at 15 knots, capacity is up to 1,500 tons of cargoes and military hardware. Armament: 57-mm gun mount ZIF-31B, 2 x 2 25-mm antiaircraft guns 2M-3M, 3 x 4 MANPADS, MLRS A-215 Grad-M. Crew is 55 men.
Project 775 landing ship Azov displaces 4,080 tons. Her speed is 18 knots; capacity is up to 500 tons of cargo and 225-men landing party. Tank hold is 95-meter long, 4.5-meter wide, and 4.5-meter high. Dimensions: length – 112.5 meters, beam – 15 meters, draft – 3.7 meters. Fuel range is 6,000 miles at 12 knots. Armament: 76-mm gun mount AK-176, 2 x 6 30-mm gun mounts AK-630, 2 MLRS A-215 Grad-M.
According to Vzglyad, official representative of Russian foreign ministry Alexander Lukashevich said earlier on Monday that although there was a plan to evacuate Russian citizens from Syria, the decision had not been made so far.