Russian President Vladimir Putin requested the Russian State Duma provide funds to expand the Russian naval presence in the Syrian port of Tartus on the Mediterranean to a full-fledge naval base in order to provide long-term support to the Assad government and its follow-on. Putin requested the base be funded in an enhanced status till 2092.
“I hope that in the long run, Tartus will become a full-fledged military base,” the deputy chairman of the Federation Council’s Committee for Defense and Security Franz Klintsevich told the RBC business portal.
“As the guarantor of Syria’s stability, Russia is defending its interests,” he said, reported The Moscow Times.
Russia signed another fifty year lease on the site earlier this year as reported by Tsarizm.com.
“According to the document on the State Duma’s website, the agreement was based on the “mutual desire” of the parties “to strengthen and develop military cooperation.” The Russian Navy’s continued presence in Syria would be “defensive in nature and not directed against other governments,” the agreement reads. If ratified, the agreement would extend the Russian Navy’s lease on the Tartus base by 49 years, after which the agreement would automatically enter an additional 25-year period if neither party decides against it,” wrote The Moscow Times.
Russia has used the Syrian civil war as a means to reassert Russian influence in the Middle East, a capability long sought by its predecessor, the Soviet Union. This force structure will allow Russia to counter the NATO alliance in the Mediterranean and preserve a presence on the alliance’s southern flank.
The United States military forces in the region disagree that the fight against the Islamic State is over in the Levant as President Putin declared recently on a surprise visit to visit Russian forces in the region. Much of the drawdown of the Kremlin’s military assets in Syria is meant to pay to the Russian domestic audience as the 2018 president election approaches. Putin recently confirmed he will be running for a fourth term.