There has been considerable speculation over the mid-November presence, in the Spanish North African colony of Ceuta, of a Russian naval task group on a refuelling, and rest and recreation visit. The Task Group from the Northern Fleet consisted of the Slava Class guided missile cruiser 055 MARSHAL USTINOV , the Dubna Class light fleet oiler DUBNA and the Sliva Class Seagoing Rescue tug SB-406.
Russian warships were fairly regular callers at Ceuta between 2010 and 2016, but Madrid subsequently curtailed the arrangement, following protests from the NATO high command. Of particular concern to NATO was the participation of some of the vessels in operations in support of the regime of Syrian President Assad.
On the face of it, it is surprising that long-established NATO, and EU member Spain would welcome the renewed presence, in one of its six North African territories, of Russian warships, particularly as criticism of Ceuta’s role in mass irregular migration from sub-Saharan Africa is already attracting unwanted international scrutiny of the Spanish enclave.
Some analysts note, though, that such visits might well provide rare intelligence collection opportunities for NATO
Below images are of the RFS DUBNA at Valletta, Malta back to May 2013 –
Photos by Capt. Lawrence Dalli. Do not use these images without my permission. © All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos – www.maltashipphotos.com