Russia Returning to Mediterranean

Russia dispatched an 11-ship aircraft carrier group to the Mediterranean Sea, the defense minister said Wednesday -- part of what he said was an effort to resume regular naval patrols on the world's oceans.

The announcement by Anatoly Serdyukov is the latest move by the country to expand its military presence internationally and flex growing economic and military strength.

Speaking at a Kremlin meeting with President Vladimir Putin, Serdyukov said an aircraft carrier, two anti-submarine ships, a guided-missile cruiser and refueling ships, along with 47 aircraft, would be part of the group in the Mediterranean.

He said the group would conduct three exercises with real and simulated launches of sea- and air-based missiles, and make nearly a dozen port calls.

"The expedition is aimed at ensuring a naval presence and establishing conditions for secure Russian navigation," Serdyukov said in televised comments.