In a first, a Russian warship docks in Israel

In a first, a Russian  warship docks in Israel

MOSCOW/HAIFA, Israel, May 1 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s large landing ship Azov entered the Israeli port of Haifa on Wednesday, marking the first time a Russian warship calls at an Israeli port.

Azov will stay in Haifa until Friday to resupply and allow the crew to rest, a spokesman for the Russian Navy said.

City residents will also be allowed on board for a guided tour and treated to performances by the Black Sea Fleet orchestra reinforced by marines.

Azov is part of Russia’s task force in the Mediterranean, which is due to perform exercises off the coast of war-torn Syria, Captain Alexei Komarov, who heads the landing ship unit of the Black Sea Fleet, told journalists in Haifa.

He did not give a date for the exercises, but said the task force is prepared to evacuate Russian citizens from Syria, though no such order was given so far.

Russia currently has six ships in the Mediterranean, including the Azov, which made frequent trips to the region before, calling at the Russian resupply base in the Syrian city of Tartus.

Another six ships of the Pacific Fleet are on the way to the Mediterranean and expected to join the task force later this month.

Various expert estimates put the Russian diaspora in Syria at anywhere between 5,000 and 100,000, the majority of them women who married into Syrian families. Russia evacuated 77 of its citizens by bus in January.

Russia sends warship to Israel for the first time

Russia sends warship to Israel for the first time

MOSCOW, April 30 (RIA Novosti) – A Russian naval ship will visit Israel for the first time in the country’s history, the Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.

The Azov, a Ropucha II-class landing ship from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, will call at the port of Haifa from May 1-3, the ministry’s press service said.

The visit is timed to coincide with the 68th anniversary of the Allied victory in World War II, a press service representative said.

“The visit is the initiative of veteran organizations in Israel,” he added.

The program of the visit includes performances by the Black Sea Fleet orchestra for Israeli war veterans and Haifa residents. The warship will also be open to the public for visits.

A reception on board the Azov will be organized for World War II veterans living in Israel.