MOSCOW – Russia plans to expand its supply base in the port city of Tartus, Syria, into a permanent naval base, according to state news agency TASS.
“In Syria, we will have a permanent naval base in Tartus. The corresponding documents have been drafted. Currently they are in the process of inter-departmental coordination,” Deputy Defence Minister Nikolai Pankov said during a meeting of Russia’s Federation Council’s international affairs committee on Monday.
“The degree of readiness is rather high,” he said, adding that he hoped to ask the committee to ratify the move soon.
Tartus lies on Syria’s Mediterranean coast between Lebanon to the south, and Turkey to the north.
Russia’s naval facility in the port city – its only base in the Mediterranean – dates back to Soviet days. Consisting of a single pier, the base has acted primarily as a repair yard and supply station for Russian warships during Mediterranean Sea missions, but has not served as a permanent base.
Since Moscow entered the war, helping to swing momentum in the conflict in the favor of Syrian government forces, the strategic center of Russia’s military operation has been Hmeymim airbase, near Latakia.
On Sunday, Russia deployed nuclear-capable Iskander missiles in its western-most region, Kaliningrad, which borders on Poland and Lithuania.
The US and Nato have seen disagreements with Russia intensify in recent times, particularly over Syria and Ukraine.
Kaliningrad is a Russian enclave sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania.
The Iskander system has a range of up to 700km (440 miles) and could reach the German capital, Berlin.