The Russian government is about to finalize an agreement on the country’s establishment of a permanent naval base in Syria, a senior lawmaker says. Viktor Ozerov, the chairman of the Defense and Security Committee at the Federation Council, the Russian parliament’s upper house, made the announcement on Wednesday. “As far as I know, [it is] at the final stage,” he said concerning the procedure for the document’s preparation, which culminates in signing by the government.
In October, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow planned to establish the base in the western Syrian port city of Tartus, where Russia has been keeping a support and maintenance facility for its naval forces since 1977. Upon signing by the government, the agreement on opening the permanent base will go to the legislature for approval.
Russia currently maintains a permanent airbase at the Hmeymim facility in the Syrian port city of Latakia, about 86 kilometers north of Tartus. The outpost was established on the back of an August 2015 Russo-Syrian agreement. Moscow has been lending its airpower to the Syrian military’s counterterrorism operations since last September. Thanks to the support, the Syrian military has managed to reclaim much of the country’s soil from the clutches of anti-Damascus militants, who have been brutalizing the nation since 2011.
Also on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the country’s successful experience of providing back-up firepower for the Arab country’s forces. Putin, who was addressing senior military and security officers at the Kremlin, said those in the top echelons of the Russian military had to so employ the experience to “equip the army and the navy with prospective weapons.”