Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has ordered the defence and foreign ministries to hold talks with Damascus to obtain additional facilities and maritime access in Syria.
“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,” the resolution says, according to the Anadolu News Agency.
Currently, Russia has two military bases in Syria, an air base in Lattakia and a naval base in Tartus. A deal with the Damascus government allows Russian forces to use the two bases free of charge for 49 years.
Syria hosts many other smaller Russian fortified positions (often described by locals as bases), like the air-defense facility in western Hama, where an S-400 air-defense system is deployed, or the Russian Military Police base in the northeastern city of al-Qamishli.
Russia’s support allowed Syrian government forces to re-impose control of vast parts of the country. ISIS’ strongholds were liberated and the remaining militants were pushed to a narrow strip in northern Syria.
The expansion of the military structure will solidify the Russian presence in the country and further. This could lead to the increase of the number of air-defense systems, intelligence gathering equipment or even ground forces deployed in Syria. This step also demonstrates that recent reports claiming that Russian-Syrian relations are declining were just fake news.