Somali gives Russian warships "special status" to fight pirates

14:44, 01 October 2008
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Russian Foreign Ministry and Somali are now conducting talks

Somali`s government gave Russian warships the right to be near the country`s coast to fight pirates on the sea and on land, Somalian Ambassador to Russia Mohamed Handule said here on Wednesday.

This gives special status to Russian warships, the envoy said.

He noted that the Russian Foreign Ministry and Somali are now conducting talks over the possibility to effect patrols along the Somalia coast by the Russian Navy.

These are sensitive issues that have to be discussed thoroughly. "However, we have very good relations with Russia. The sooner it happens the better, so that concrete measures are taken to resolve this problem," Mohamed Handule said.

Somalia has allowed Russia and Ukraine to free the Ukrainian vessel Faina, captured by pirates.

"If Russia and Ukraine free the vessel Faina on their own, they have complete right to put on trial the pirates who have seized it," the diplomat said.

"The vessel, seized on October 25, is now near the Somalian town of Hobyo. The crew comprises 17 Ukrainians, two Russians and one Latvian. On Sunday, September 28, the captain of the vessel, Vladimir Kolobkov, died of cerebral hemorrhage.

The Faina was loaded with armaments, including 33 T-72 tanks, aid defence units, grenade launchers and ammunition.

A U.S. destroyer is watching the Faina at present in case pirates start unloading the cargo onto the shore. The Russian Baltic Fleet vessel Neustrashimy (Intrepid) is sailing to the area of the incident.


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