Russia aims to expand its military bases in Syria
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday instructed his Defense and Foreign Ministries to hold talks with Bashar Assad’s government over obtaining maritime access in Syria, as well as further military facilities and additional real estate on land and at sea.
The two Russian ministries will negotiate with the Syrian side about the transfer of additional ground and water area under the lease agreement, authorizing Russia to use the naval facility at Tartus and airbase Hmeimim for 49 years on a free-of-charge basis, says a document, published on an official website.
Moscow currently has two permanent military bases in Syria — an air base in western Syria’s Latakia province and a naval base at Tartus on the Mediterranean coast.
Both the Tartus and Latakia bases are set to be expanded to allow Russian armed forces higher levels of performance and functionality, said Yuri Shvitkin, the vice chair of the Russian state Duma defense committee.
An official document said: “Accept the proposal of the government of the Russian Federation to sign Protocol No. 1 to the agreement between the Russian Federation and the Syrian Arab Republic on the deployment of an aviation group of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic dated Aug. 26, 2015 on the transfer of additional ground and water areas.”
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to UN officials.
In March 2020, Syria entered its tenth year of civil war.
According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor, the decade-long conflict has displaced 11 million people, killed more than 384,000, including 116,000 civilians, and created an international humanitarian crisis with no end in sight.