President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that calls for the expansion of Russia’s naval base in war-torn Syria, thereby deepening Moscow’s presence there and its overall involvement in the Middle East.
The expansion will take place in the Syrian port of Tartus, and could help complete what Putin has said would be a “permanent” Russian presence at the port and the Hmeimim air base, both of which are key support facilities for Russian operations in the country backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The initial agreement was signed in Damascus in January of this year. It allows the Russian navy to bolster and expand a technical support and logistics facility at the Port of Tartus, giving the Kremlin its only foothold in the Mediterranean Sea.
The pact gives Russia permission to station up to 11 warships, including nuclear-powered ships, at the port anytime for the next 49 years. And it allows Russian ships to enter Syria’s territorial waters, internal waters, and ports, and use the Tartus facility free of charge.
The agreement also gives Russian personnel stationed at Tartus immunity while regulating the status of military personnel and their families stationed there. [source]
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