Russia's Death Fleet: Malta will not refuel Russia's "death fleet" heading to Syria

17:09 Oct. 27, 2016

Malta will not refuel Russia's "death fleet" heading to Syria

In this 2004 file photo, Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is seen in the Barents Sea (AP photo)

Online petition to the Maltese government said the people of Malta did not want to be complicit in Russia's war crimes 

No Russian warships will be refuelled in Malta on their way to Syria, the country's Foreign Minister George Vella said on Thursday, The Times of Malta reports.

Thus, Vella dismissed the claims that the Russian flotilla would stop at Malta, though he did not confirm or deny whether Russia made such a request.

The battlegroup, led by the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and the battle cruiser Peter the Great, sailed last week from its North Sea base and has just entered the Mediterranean.

The warships were expected to dock in the Spanish harbour of Ceuta on the North African coast, but amid NATO pressure on Spain, Russia later said it had withdrawn its request for refuelling.

On Tuesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned the Syria-bound ships could be used to target civilians in the besieged city of Aleppo and to launch more air strikes.

Malta's reaction came after a campaign by activist group Avaaz called on the country to follow Spain in stopping what it called the "Russian death fleet" from docking. 

"A tidal wave of public pressure is spreading across the Mediterranean pushing governments to say no to supplying Russia's death-fleet," Christoph Schott, senior campaigner at Avaaz, said.

"First Spain and now Malta have recognised that they could be literally fuelling the slaughter of civilians in Aleppo by letting the Russians dock, now Greece and all governments in their path should follow suit." 

The convoy is expected to continue its journey past Malta, the Greek islands and Cyprus. It is unclear what stops - if any - it will make.

Based on reporting by The Independent, The Times of Malta

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