4 Jul 2010 16:36

Medvedev vows Russia will continue to fight sea pirates

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia. July 4 (Interfax) - Russia will continue to fight sea piracy because it "was, is and must be a great sea power," President Medvedev said.

"It would be unseemly on our part to cop out when such difficult tasks are being handled or to suggest that other countries should do this while we keep low profile and save money," Medvedev said at a ceremony in which he conferred state honors on Pacific Fleet sailors who had taken part in rescuing hijacked tanker Moskovsky Universitet (Moscow University) it the Gulf of Aden in May

"That is not an option for us. We will definitely take up those tasks. We will help both our own merchant ships and foreign participants in merchant sea navigation so that they are able to move through the ocean peacefully," he said.

The Moscow University rescue operation was "quick and successful," Medvedev said. "It was done efficiently, competently, intelligently, without any serious problems. Thereby you have made it evident that our navy is capable of not only carrying out global tasks of maintaining peace but also carrying out local tasks, such as combating piracy."

Piracy had been a very serious threat in recent years, the president said.

"This work will continue despite the fact that it needs concentrated efforts and, it must be admitted, quite serious financial inputs. Nevertheless, I believe it means obviously benefit, both for our country and for foreign vessels," he said.

The pirates who raided the Moscow University on May 5 took 23 Russian sailors hostage.

The crew were able to issue an emergency signal, cut off power and barricaded themselves in one of the compartments. They were released by marines who had arrived aboard the anti-submarine destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov.