LONDON/MOSCOW– In the past few weeks Russia has increased its support for ally President Bashar al-Assad by sending more than 100 cargo vessels to the main Syrian ports of Latakia and Tartous, which has become the biggest buildup in shipping for over a year.
According to maritime intelligence and international trade sources’ shipping data, the cargo includes food, fuel, equipment and military supplies. While some of the deliveries were ordered by Syrian and Russian governments, others were private suppliers expecting an opportunity to sell their goods as fighting picks up, the sources said.
“Ships are backed up and the logistics of bringing cargoes is complex and chaotic at the moment. We are seeing all of this due to Russia’s bigger involvement,” a Middle East based commodities trade source said.
The political and economic situation in Syria including Western sanctions imposed on the state companies that run the ports and local shipping firms have made many international transporters refuse to send ships to Syria.
Meanwhile, Russia has increased its humanitarian shipments of grains, supplying 71,000 tones since the start of the current marketing year on July 1, according to export data cited by Igor Pavensky, deputy head of strategic marketing at rail infrastructure operator Rusagrotrans.
Ammunition, bombs, heavy weapons, listening devices, electronic equipment, and jamming devices have reportedly been moved into Syria according to an international arms industry source with knowledge of Middle Eastern weapons movements.
Spokesman for Russia’s arms export monopoly Rosoboronexport, Vyacheslav Davidenkov said: “We never comment – time, dates, ways and number of deliveries. No comments.”