The speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament said on Thursday The speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament said on Thursday that Russia could resume a naval presence in Yemen.
Authorities in the Middle East country are calling on Moscow to help fight piracy and possible terrorist threats. The U.S.S.R. had a major naval base in the former socialist state of South Yemen, which merged with North Yemen in 1990 to form the present-day Yemen. Speaking to journalists in Sana, the capital of Yemen, Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov said the new direction of Russia's foreign and defense policies and an increase in its naval missions would be taken into consideration when making a decision on the request. "It's possible that the aspects of using Yemen ports not only for visits by Russian warships, but also for more strategic goals will be considered," he said. He also said a visit to Russia by the president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, could take place in the near future and that the issue of military technical cooperation could be raised during his visit. A missile frigate from Russia's Baltic Fleet is currently en route to Somalia at the invitation of Somali authorities to fight piracy off the Somali coast together with warships from other countries. Somali pirates recently hijacked a Ukrainian ship, MV Faina, carrying at least 33 tanks and other heavy weaponry. Six U.S. warships are currently surrounding the Faina. Pirates are also active near the Yemen coast in the Gulf of Aden, where they seized a Panamanian tanker in September. Mironov said Yemen feared that groups associated with the al-Qaeda terrorist movement might be hiding in the Somali region, which has no effective government and no navy to police its coastline, and could later expand their activity in the Arabian Sea with its busy oil tanker routes