June 15th, 2012
06:42 PM ET

US believes Russia has ship with weapons, troops en route to Syria

By Barbara Starr, with reporting from Jill Dougherty

The United States says it is tracking a Russian military cargo ship as it makes its way to Syria carrying weapons, ammunition and a small number of Russian troops.

U.S. intelligence believes the Russians are sending the ship to help fortify its naval base in Syria as the situation in country continues to spiral out of control, Pentagon officials told CNN Friday.

The presence of the ship was first reporting by NBC News.

Classified U.S. imagery shows the ship, called the Nikolay Filchenkov, began loading in the port of Sevastapol on the Black Sea on June 7 and is headed for the Syrian port of Tartus, where the Russians have a naval facility. The port is vital for Russian naval access to the entire Middle East.

Under maritime rules, Russia should declare what the ship is carrying when it enters the Mediterranean, U.S. officials said.

The sources could not say how many troops are on board, though it is not believed to be a large number. In addition, the officials said, it is not clear if the troops are only to help secure and transport the weapons and equipment or if they will stay in Syria.

For now, the United States believes Russia's intention is to defend its naval base. But it is not clear how much of a threat the Russians really are facing from Syrian opposition forces. There have been no reports of significant fighting in the area lately.

U.S. officials are worried there could be other plans for the troops and military gear should the Russians offload the ship in Tartus.

The Nikolay Filchenkov is a large landing ship capable of carrying up 1,700 tons and 300 troops, according to Human Rights Watch, which monitors ship activity in relation to Syria.

Russia has already been in a fierce back-and-forth with the United States, after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Russians were shipping attack helicopters to Syria. The Russian government has said the helicopters are not new, but rather were refurbished under an existing contract with Syria.

"As we said before, there are no new combat helicopters supplies to Syria. Our military and technical cooperation with Syria is limited to delivery of defensive arms. As for helicopters, earlier we did a planned maintenance of equipment that had been supplied to Syria many years ago," Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement published on its website Friday.

A former Russian presidential adviser tells CNN that it does not make sense for Moscow to send troops to offload at the port.

Andranik Migranyan, director of the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation in New York, a Kremlin-backed non-governmental organization, said Russia has opposed introducing any outside troops into Syria because, Russian officials argue, it would create more problems in the violence-torn country.

"I don't see any logic in it," Migranyan told CNN, referring to the reports of troops on their way. "If Russia did that it would invite other countries to send forces to Syria."

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  27. theazcowboy

    What would the Great Satan do if the Russian fleet was about to take out their Bahrain naval base? Fight like hell, right? Then why all this caca about Russians naval base in Syria being threatened by ther United Snakes (US/NATO). huh 'boyze?!!!'

    August 1, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Reply
  28. theazcowboy

    The United Snakes (US/Israel/NATO) have helped murder thousands of Syrian civilians using their Libyan 'Rebel' thugs and murders and then tried to blame the Syrian military for the massacres and deaths. Pretty low down politics. Hillary needs to be captured by Assad and burn at the stake (Joan of Arc, I presume?) for being the heart of the killing in Libya, Syria, and indirectly in Palestine. Trying to make the Middle East safe for Jewish terrorism isn't working and US Imperialism is at a threshhold of running or declaring victory and leaving. Yassar Taliban 'patriots' you got the bankrupt US/NATO baby kilers and oil thieves in retreat in AFghanistan – Burn their tail feathers off!

    August 1, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Reply
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  31. Marcus Luttrell

    Russia is protecting its Naval Base that is located in Syria. It is also hoping that maybe if their ships are docked in the Port of Tartus, it will stop International Forces from taking further part in the conflict. It may not look like it on the U.S. or U.K. News but The Free Syrian Army is made up of Rebel Al Qaeda Terrorists! Why does the U.S. arm them?

    July 14, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Reply
    • theazcowboy

      Ever notice the the great Satans allies in the Middle Easst consists of low life killers of innocents, interlopers and adventurers that spread racisl hatred . From Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Kuwait, el al. You see kings that were once merely low life camel drivers that were at the right place at the right time when the US/Britain and France were creating that rubics cube we call the Middle East these dayze? In Israel, you see the interloper Kahzars that migrated from their homeland in the Black Sea Cacasus area in 520 BC and moved north to destroy Czarist Russia and the Romanov's and then onwards to Hungry and Poland where like biblical locusts they raped the people, the land and everything in-between in the name of Judaism and their G-d', the golden Calf that ruled their life then and up until Wall Street 2009-10-11 where 'derivitives' and 'mortgage wraps' scams helped them to rape the American people of pension, investment and discretionaly funds like a thief steals from a baby.

      August 2, 2012 at 1:11 am | Reply
  32. Darrell

    you damn right, I wouldn't trust Putin two inches, he is like a snake, with alot of snake oil in his pocket, he can not be trusted, you do not have a role in the KGP for nothing, he is trained to be a spy, so anything he thinks he can get away with, he will take total advantage of the situation, its in his blood, why do you think he wanted the Presidents position again, he can not be truthful at all to nobody, its the way it is.

    June 28, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Reply
    • theazcowboy

      Interesting, in a world led by the Great Satan, it's Jewish hemmorhoid Israel and a gaggle of Sunni king despots the Pilgrim here disparages Putin?! Hell, Messer Putun and his Chinese allies represnts what's left of decent governments on the planet, Bubba. You must be thinking Stalin is still running the CCCP, huh? Hey 'Kyle' Putin has already warned the United Snakes (US/Israel/NATO) that an attack on Syria/Iran is an attack on Russia. I would think the bankrupt low life oil thieves and predator hyena pack of the US.NATO would think twice before they die! Jajajaja.

      June 29, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Reply
  33. ccsroscoe@gmail.com

    The Russian troops are needed to guard its last warm water port and the stockpile of nukes.

    June 21, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Reply
  34. desert voice (troubledgoodangel or Nathanael or Bohdan or Voiceinthedesert)

    Vladimir Putin ought to be asked to show his 'contract with Syria." Is this a pre-Berlin Wall contract? If so, it is not valid now. Secondly, injecting war helicopters into a civil war would be insanity. The UN must make Putin clear this much! What I would do if Russia furnishes alAssad with helicopters? I would impose a UN mandated no-fly zone for those helicopters!

    June 19, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Reply
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    June 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Reply
  39. AlexShch

    Wow! Over 600 comments about NONEXISTING NEWS. Folks around here, Large landing ship "Nikolay Filchenkov" has not been moved for over 1 years and is not going anywhere. This is completely made up story just to tease you.

    June 18, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Reply
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    I HAVE A DREAM... MARTIN LUTHER KING – August 23 1963


    June 18, 2012 at 11:44 am | Reply
  41. nsnbc

    For a comprehensive analysis – including that of disinformation being systematically spread through main stream media, I highly recommend the following article.

    East-West Standoff over Syria and Iran: Explosive Diplomacy and Brinkmanship at the Brink of World War III.
    The systematic Manufacturing of War, challenging Russia and China in Race for either Global Full Spectrum Dominance or Global Full Spectrum Devastation. A Comprehensive Analysis.


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    June 18, 2012 at 8:35 am | Reply
  44. TTT


    June 18, 2012 at 8:04 am | Reply
  45. Everett Wallace

    let's do this then pootin pootin pootin.

    June 18, 2012 at 8:02 am | Reply
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    Lennon your going to have to work harder and faster for a raise this decade

    June 17, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Reply
  47. TIG

    (...)We couldn't bury our martyrs in the cemetery because... it is targeted by Assad's forces(...)

    (...)Sunday's dead also included a 17-year-old boy "who was thrown from a fifth floor apartment by security forces after they raided his home in the (Damascus province) town of Daraya," the Observatory said citing activists(...)

    June 17, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Reply
  48. THY

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  49. A

    (...)China president urges G20 members to stick together
    Posted: Sunday, 17 June 2012 11:55AM(...)

    June 17, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Reply
  50. The Communist Leader

    This is just the first step. Soon the world will bow down to Communism, and than evantually America.

    June 17, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Reply
    • Allahban

      All hail Allah

      June 18, 2012 at 9:19 am | Reply
    • PhilW

      Uh, I appreciate you've been living in a cave for the past 20 years, but you really need to start reading up on recent history. Start with 1991, and the fall of the Soviet Union.

      June 18, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Reply
  51. dreamer96

    And what if some crazy "End of Days" terrorist group attacks the Russian ship...We really do not need to start WWIII over Al-Assad..Russia should just assassinate Al-Assad for World Peace...and take his money...

    June 17, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Reply
  52. UPN

    IT IS 1:00 A.M. IN SYRIA:


    June 17, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Reply
  53. Rudolph vs

    Hmm... Let us hope Russia is excercising restrain.

    June 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Reply
  54. UPN


    June 17, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Reply
  55. TBS


    June 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Reply
  56. TBS

    @ CharlieSeattle
    June 17th, 2012 1:24 pm ET--

    That does not sound (read) right to me–


    although when mitt romney takes the whitehouse in 2013 karl rove will be right back in the drivers seat in america chasing the axis of evil

    and it will be the "supreme" courts fault

    so you see it will not matter who is in the whitehouse because israel will be back in complete control it is what it is

    I don't make the rules but the republican donars do and all ten of them are all mega rich israel americans who only care about their personal bottom line

    June 17, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Reply
  57. CharlieSeattle

    The Russian troops were sent to protect the nuclear weapons that they and Iran and North Korea have stored there. That is, if they have not been smuggled elsewhere yet.

    June 17, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Reply
  58. BFD

    It is about 7 P.M. in Syria–DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR CHILDREN ARE–

    June 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Reply
  59. Obama ask Putin for favour in South Korea !

    when obama leaned into the arm pit of Russia in South Korea In March & ask Putin for a favour which results in out comes such as this clearly shows the weakness of Obama on so many levels .

    June 17, 2012 at 11:51 am | Reply
    • PhilW

      Really? If someone can help you, you think it's more macho to go it alone? Maybe Putin can't help. There's a difference between prudence and weakness. How do you propose Obama show himself to be "strong"? Too much of American thinking seems to flow from thinking of our military as our one big hammer, in which every problem in the world is a nail. Not every problem in the world is solvable by the military; in fact, not every problem in the world is solvable. By what arrogance have we decided, god-like, that we can, and therefore should?

      June 17, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Reply
  60. PhilW

    In other words, let them go all in. They'll pay a heavy price, and we can watch it from the sidelines.

    June 17, 2012 at 9:17 am | Reply
  61. Lars

    Russia is clearly taking Assad's side. This is NOT a humanitarian mission. Remember just the other day the military laid out theorize plan "just in case" we need to get involved in Syria? They knew this ship was on its way. This news was never meant to be published I bet you – another leak. And today a bombshell we are in a secret war with Yemen and Somalia? Sad times indeed. War is made without us even knowing. And now, when this ship lands, and when we realize the resupply is being used to amplify the mass killings, and Russian T tanks are roaming the streets, and every dissenters is executed, then what? Then, we got a big choice.... Fight the red bear, or ignore the slaughter. War with Russia, a nuclear war, seems more likely every day.

    June 17, 2012 at 8:59 am | Reply
    • PhilW

      Why should we go to war with Russia over this? Why would we think they would have better luck in Syria than we did in Iraq? Actually, chances are their luck would be worse, if they are so foolish as to intervene militarily. This has Putin's fingerprints all over it, and it may be his downfall.

      June 17, 2012 at 9:17 am | Reply
  62. Onikami

    so the russians want a beachead in the med and middle east. al-assad can be resupplied by russian forces thru that beachhead and russia can clean up when one side wins. What's china's reward for backing the ruskies and al-assad?

    June 16, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Reply
    • azezel

      China's reward for standing against the american empire would be oil... If I need to say more then look at the old geography textbooks if you can get a hold of them and notice how the map shapes up. We will be lucky to keep alaska if the dollar goes kaput.

      June 17, 2012 at 4:00 am | Reply
      • Trevor

        Had a briefing by a China geo-political SME at my base in Elmendorf AFB...the Chinese backing Assad is about them sending a "message" to their substantial Muslim population in western half of their country on how they will be "handled" if they so choose to "rise up". Lose Alaska? Who's going to "take" it?

        June 17, 2012 at 10:23 am |
      • CharlieSeattle

        ...lose Alaska? hm, at least Sarah Palin won't be a citzen anymore!

        June 17, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
  63. TLC



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    June 16, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Reply
  64. TNT


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  66. Germany

    Why are you americans so stupid? Deaths of your troops in Iraq are not enough for you?

    June 16, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Reply
    • Chocolate cupcakes

      Why are you Chinese trolls such pieces of crap that hide behind other nationalitiies?

      Lol my name is Germany therefore I'm a US ally saying bad things about the US.


      June 16, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Reply
    • Edward

      It's funny how America is always scorned and ridiculed for action we take to stabalize the world... yet other nations turn the blind eye and pretend as if the world is a perfect place while innocent people die under the hands of ruthless leadership... Contrary to what many believe the US presence in the middle east stabalizes the entire region... if we were to leave, just pack up and haul butt, then you would truly see caos... but then again maybe that is what we should do, then when the rest of the world cries for our assistance... maybe we should turn our blind eye.... but we won't don't worry Germany, I'll leave my family for 10 months at a time, to ensure world stabalization while you sit behind your keyboard and bash my country... by the way your welcome....

      June 16, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Reply
    • azezel

      I wish we were that stupid but the reality is bush sr was a tactical genius. A type of scary you don't want to play in chess. The american public understands what is going on better than most think and they have decide to close their eyes and hope the party continues.

      June 17, 2012 at 4:05 am | Reply
  67. PhilW

    Would be fascinating to be a fly on the wall right now at the Russian version of the Pentagon. Because I have to think there are many a Russian general right now going, "Nyet! Nyet! Nyet!" Surely they have some officers who recognize the perils of being sucked into a disastrous conflict, in the Middle East no less. Might some Russian general say, "What if we get sucked into this thing? Look what happened to the Americans in Iraq!" Maybe another Russian would say, "The Russian army is not the American army." And if he did so, he would be repeating the words of another Russian general thirty-odd years ago when the Russians were criticized for sending troops to another Muslim country. That country was Afghanistan, and the resulting Russian disaster was one of the main reasons for the subsequent fall of the Soviet Union. This policy is clearly Putin's. Power has gone to his head; he sees himself now as a new czar of the Third Rome redivivus, the successor to the Byzantine hegemons. Rather than being smart, realizing that Assad's days are numbered, and trying to dissociate himself from a regime that must, sooner or later, dissolve into hunted bands of desperate criminals, he has just doubled down on the disastrous policy of preserving Russia's last strategic holdover from the Cold War in the Middle East, by sheer application of force. This intervention may prove to be his downfall.

    June 16, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Reply
  68. no name

    Americans keep saying this is not our problem, its makes me laugh its seems Russia and china makes them scared, they r right can can be wiped out with israel by russian, china and of corse cuba and other latin americans.
    You guys know syria wont be like irak.
    Now i think Turkey should be quite about it, this is not their problem they should wipe that PKK out of the country.

    June 16, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Reply

      let your country deal with it.. USA isnt going to police the world because other countries cannot take care of themselves..
      China.. Bring it.. This isnt 200BC anymore.. Technology over numbers

      June 16, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Reply
  69. Russia < piece of crap

    Truethier than truth!

    June 16, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Reply
    • Russian

      Chinese always copy us because they are unoriginal idiots.

      June 16, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Reply
  70. Russia


    June 16, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Reply
    • China

      I'm Chinese and I hate my country.

      June 16, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Reply
  71. nuke emall

    Russia is all for money. It could care less how many innocent lives perished in Syria as soon as it kept on raking billions of dollars from Al-Assad from the sell their garbage.

    This must be stopped, AT ALL COST!

    June 16, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Reply
  72. Catharsis

    Large Landing Ship "Nikolay Filchenkov"

    Project 1171 / Alligator Class

    The Project 1171 Tapir Large Landing Ship (Bol'shoy Desatnyy Korabl' BDK) is a beachable, general-purpose LST-type design with bow and stern ramps for unloading vehicles. Produced in at least four different types beginning in 1966, there are numerous variations in detail between units. Many have been retired, and remaining units may be in reserve, given the Russian Navy's decreased emphasis on amphibious operations.

    Large Landing Ship "Nikolay Filchenkov" was built by Yantar Zavod, Kaliningrad. Laid down 30 Jan 1974, completed 29 March 1975, commissioned on 12 Dec 1975.

    Builder: Yantar Zavod, Kaliningrad
    Year: 1975
    Displacement: 4,650 tons full load
    Speed: 16,5 knots
    Range: 10,000 miles at 15 kts
    Dimensions: 113.1 x 15.6 x 4.5 meters/371.1 x 51.2 x 14.7 feet
    Propulsion: 2 diesels, 9,000 hp, 2 shafts
    Crew: 55
    Cargo: 300 troops + 1,700 tons including about 20 tanks and various trucks or 40 AFV's
    Missiles: 3 SA-N-5 Grail launchers manual aiming
    122 mm UMS-73 Grad-M bombardment RL

    Guns: 1 dual 57 mm/70 DP
    2 dual 25 mm AA

    June 16, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Reply
    • Stolichnaya

      so what?

      June 16, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Reply
  73. Jason

    I am a proud American but I think that we should keep our noses out of these things it's none of our business what Russia wants to do Unless it is to pertain to us

    June 16, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Reply
    • Catharsis

      agree – Syrian has been and will always be a Soviet – err pardon – Russian vassal state

      June 16, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Reply
      • China

        I'm Chinese and we have no hope for the future 🙁

        June 16, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • SSSR > usA :)

      this one has a brain! Ты Молодец! Комунисты тебя оставят живым. 😉

      June 16, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Reply
      • Recon

        yob'tvoyu mat, Communism is the way of the past. It's a broken system

        June 16, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
      • SSSR > usA

        Recon, it was joke 😉 Relax dude :))

        June 16, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
      • North Korea

        China is gay, lets side with USSR because China is gay.

        June 16, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
      • China

        I'm Chinese and I admit the USA is best country in the world.

        June 16, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • German

      You will never beat the USA, they invented everything you use.

      June 16, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Reply
    • German

      What has Russia and China done in the last 60 years that equals the US. Combine both and compare.

      June 16, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Reply
  74. jim

    Isaiah 17

    June 16, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Reply
  75. KEVIN

    Seems bad

    June 16, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Reply
  76. blackhawkmom

    We need to stay out of this – we should not be the world policeman or savior.

    June 16, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Reply
    • yuri pelham

      We are doing a real good job of staying out. Very smart Prez

      June 16, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Reply
    • SSSR > usA :)

      that's right! Anyway USA was stopped by Russia and China hahahahah :)) You can nothing. 😉

      June 16, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Reply
      • scarface86

        That's not true. We can pickles, tomatoes and peppers.

        June 16, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • tiredofwars

      This is not good...even poor Russia is intervening while we stand aside and do absolutely nothing?

      June 16, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Reply
      • SSSR > usA :)

        Yes, you do -> DEBTS, DEBTS, DEBTS, DEBTS :))))

        June 16, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
      • Russisapiecrap

        Perhaps, US is in debt especially to China. Because US spend billions and even trillions of dollars on its support to humanitarian causes and saving innocent lives. On the other hand Russia and China were raking trilions of dollars by selling their trash supporting atrocities.

        June 16, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • American Formerexpatriate

      I agree. USA needs to stop being big brother and leave RUSSIA THE HELL ALONE! MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS! They're so caught up in control and want power -world power. Lame. USA is already established in the lowest demeanor, they should focus on real American problems. We're showing fear by this article. Ha!

      June 16, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Reply
      • SSSR > usA :)

        +1 dude

        June 16, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
      • Russia

        Obiously, you're not American, both of you!

        June 16, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  77. Adel

    Russia is a pain in the ass...

    June 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Reply
    • SSSR > usA :)

      I dont think so dude 🙂 Look this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_public_debt

      June 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Reply
    • Yury

      I think you are the one. Get your head out of your A^& and smell fresh air...

      June 16, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Reply
      • Russisapiecrap

        Perhaps, US is in debt especially with China. Because US spend billions and even trillions of dollars on its support to humanitarian causes and saving innocent lives. On the other hand Russia and China were raking trilions of dollars by selling their trash supporting atrocities.

        June 16, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
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