The South African government is denying access to the Russian navy's nuclear-powered heavy missile cruiser, Pyotr Velikiy. This mean machine was meant to spend 3 days in Cape Town enroute to Libya, where Russia just sold $2-b in weaponry... (video)
The cruiser is already enroute to Cape Town. It's actually just stopping by for three days enroute to Libya - where its leader Qadaffi has just signed a $2-billion arms deal with Russia to purchase surface-to-air missiles and other modern weaponry. Libya plans to spend another $9-billion on new submarines, aircraft and surface-to-air missiles in Russia. This huge order will keep the Russian military-industrial complex in jobs for years.
South Africa's national Nuclear Regulator Gino Moonsamy told the South African Press Assocation that the flag cruiser from the Russian Federation was being denied access to Cape Town harbour because its documentation was not in order, and until the proper documentation was submitted, it would be deemed unsafe.
The South African navy is deeply disappointed that its own government refuses to accept the safety certificate from Russia's nuclear regulatory authority and other documentation which had been submitted in December in preparation for the visit. However, said a SA Navy spokesman, it would continue to prepare for the Russian navy's three-day visit, hoping the refusal may still be reversed once the documentation problems has been cleared up.
Indian Navy exercises:
A Russian Navy spokesman told me today that the Pyotr Veliky will sail down Africa's west coast and pass the southern tip of the continent, visiting Cape Town for three days, before joining up with warships from the Pacific Fleet for the INDRA-2009 joint exercises with the Indian Navy.
The Admiral Vinogradov, an Udaloy class destroyer, a tugboat and two fuel tankers have almost reached the Indian Ocean, having left Russia's Far East two weeks ago.
Libya ordering $11-billion's worth of air defense systems, combat aircraft and warships from Russia next:
After its Cape Town visit, the naval task force from Russia's Northern Fleet, led by the nuclear-powered missile cruiser Pyotr Veliky , will next visit the Libyan capital October 11-13.
Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi paid an official visit to Russian Dmitry Medvedev from October 31 to November 2 last year - to discuss the modernization of Libya's weaponry, delivered during the Soviet era.
Mikhail Dmitriyev, head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, said that oil-rich Libya was particularly interested in buying new air defense systems, combat aircraft and warships.
Libya used to be one of the key buyers of Soviet arms with estimated deliveries worth $20 billion. Moscow supplied Tripoli with about 300 combat aircraft, up to 4,000 tanks, dozens of air defense missile systems, warships and small arms. At present the outdated equipment desperately needs modernizing, said Dmitriyev.
The lifting of sanctions in 2003, imposed on Libya by the UN in the early 1990s over its suspected terror links, reopened a promising arms market for Russia, estimated at $11 billion, he said.
Libya's armed forces are already 90% equipped with Russian weaponry -- outdated MiG-21, MiG-23, MiG-25, Su-17 and Su-24 aircraft; sixty S-125 Pechora air defense missile systems. They want to upgrade these with Russian S-300PMU-2 or Tor-M1 systems. Libya also as interested in Russia's newest Project 20382 corvette and Project 636 diesel-electric submarines.
A new $2-billion arms deal was apparently signed during Qaddaffi's visit, according to Russia's Vedomosti business daily in October.
Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo, speaking for the Russian Navy, said Russia currently has three naval task groups on tours of duty in the world's oceans.
Strait of Gibraltar:
Another naval task force from the Northern Fleet, led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier and including the Admiral Levchenko destroyer, recently left the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, and is heading to the Strait of Gibraltar.
Russia announced last year that its Navy had resumed and would build up a constant presence in different regions of the world's oceans.
The Pyotr Velikiy was indeed judged unfit for service five years ago, the Russian naval spokesman said -- when then-Russian admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov had caused an international stir when he'd warned publicly that the cruiser was 'being poorly maintained'. However since that time, the Russian navy has worked with the international nuclear regulation agency to get all its certification documents up to date, its spokesman said.
South Africa's navy had submitted a formal application to the nuclear regulator in December with the Russian navy's updated documentation -- to allow the cruiser to visit Cape Town from January 9 to 12. The South African nuclear regulator waited until just three days before its visit, when it's already cruising down Africa's west coast, and is nearing Cape Town harbour, to refuse it entry.
The Pyotr Velikiy is heavily armed, carrying both surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles, including 20 long-range Granit anti-ship missiles.It is powered by two 300MW nuclear reactors, and has auxiliary steam boilers.