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'No Russian warship will be refuelled in Malta'

15:05, Thursday, 27 October, 2016
'No Russian warship will be refuelled in Malta'

No Russian war ships will be refuelled in Malta, Foreign Minister George Vella said today, dismissing claims that the flotilla was planning a stopover on the island on their way to Syria.
     Contacted by Times of Malta, Dr Vella would not, however, confirm or deny whether a request had been made by the Russians for a fleet stopover in Malta.
     It is not known whether any request from the Russians was turned down on constitutional or ethical grounds.
     The reaction was prompted by Avaaz, an online campaign group, which said that Russian warships and submarines heading for Syria are likely to approach Malta to refuel.
     "Avaazers in Spain just stopped this death fleet from refueling there. Let’s urgently tell the Maltese government that we do not want to be complicit in war crimes and demand they prohibit entry," Avaaz said.
     Spain has been accused of betraying its Nato and EU allies by allowing dozens of Russian destroyers and submarines to refuel in its territories in north Africa — less than 20 miles from the Royal Navy base at Gibraltar.

But Avaazers in Spain stopped what it called as the "death fleet" from refueling there.
     "As Malta is likely next, let’s urgently tell Prime Minister Muscat and Foreign Minister Vella that the people of Malta do not want to be complicit in these war crimes and demand they prohibit entry and services to the Russian ships.
     "Malta should be acting to stop the slaughter, not making money from it. Let’s speak out now."
     In its petition to the Maltese government, Avaaz said the battleships are carrying aircraft and weapons that could be used to blow Syrian hospitals and schools into pieces. It claims that since Russia seized Crimea, Russian warships visited Malta in 2014 and 2015.
     Thousands of Syrians are believed to have been killed by Russian bombs, as Vladimir Putin continues lending his support for the Assad regime in Syria against the rebels.
     NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned yesterday that the ships, headed for Syria, could be used to target civilians in the besieged city of Aleppo and to launch more air strikes.
     Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry this morning dismissed suggestions from NATO that a Russian group in the Mediterranean would join the bombardment of Syria's Aleppo as "absurd".

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