After Maneuvers with Venezuelan Navy, Russian Warship Will Cross Panama Canal

December 3, 2008 - 3:16 PM
The Russian navy said Wednesday one of its warships would sail this week through Panama Canal - a symbolic projection of Moscow's power to the U.S. zone of influence.
Moscow (AP) - The Russian navy said Wednesday one of its warships would sail this week through Panama Canal - a symbolic projection of Moscow's power to the U.S. zone of influence.
 
It will be the first time since World War II that a Soviet or Russian military vessel crosses the canal, Russian navy spokesman Capt. Igor Dygalo said.
 
The destroyer Admiral Chabanenko will arrive Friday at the Rodman naval base in Panama's port of Balboa for a six-day visit after carrying out joint maneuvers with the Venezuelan navy, Dygalo said in a telephone interview.
 
The Panama Canal has long been a symbol of U.S. influence in Latin America. Rodman was once the hub for all U.S. naval activities in South America and supported fleet units transiting the 50-mile (80-kilometer) canal.
 
The joint maneuvers with Venezuela this week were widely seen as a show of Kremlin anger over the U.S. use of warships to deliver aid to Georgia after its war with Russia in August.
 
The Russian squadron's voyage to Venezuela was Russia's first such deployment to the Western Hemisphere since the Cold War era, aimed to showcase the Kremlin's global reach and reassert its claim to great-power status.
 
The nuclear-powered missile cruiser Peter the Great led the Russian squadron, which also includes the Admiral Chabanenko and two support ships.