MOSCOW: Russia has ordered a flotilla of naval ships to remain in the Mediterranean Sea to help evacuate Russian nationals from the Gaza Strip in case of another flare-up in violence, Russian news agencies said Friday.
The order applies to the guided-missile cruiser Moskva, two amphibious ships, the Novocherkassk and the Saratov, as well as several other vessels, the Interfax and RIA Novosti news agencies said, quoting a source in the Russian Navy command headquarters.
They "were ordered to be stationed in the designated area of the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea for a possible evacuation of Russian nationals from the Gaza Strip in case the Israel-Palestinian conflict escalated," the source was quoted as saying.
The source did not say what was the immediate cause of the order, which comes after Israel and militant Palestinian group Hamas agreed a ceasefire to end eight days of violence in the Gaza Strip. The truce is holding so far.
According to Russian media, around 400 Russian nationals live in the Gaza Strip, largely Russian women who married Palestinian men and their children.