Monday, August 29, 2016


Explainer: Why Is Access To Syria's Port At Tartus So Important To Moscow?

Sailors from Russia's nuclear-powered "Pyotr Veliky" missile cruiser line up on parade in Syria's Mediterranean port of Tartus.
Sailors from Russia's nuclear-powered "Pyotr Veliky" missile cruiser line up on parade in Syria's Mediterranean port of Tartus.
By Ron Synovitz
More than its weapons sales to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russia's greatest strategic and geopolitical interest in Syria is the use of a deep-water port at Tartus. RFE/RL takes a closer look at this arrangement.

How long has Moscow been using Syria's port at Tartus as a strategic naval base in the Mediterranean?

The Soviet Navy began using Syria's deep-water port at Tartus for submarines and surface vessels under a 1971 agreement with Damascus. The Soviet Union was Syria's main arms supplier and Tartus was used to receive Soviet weapons bought by Damascus.

The Soviet Fifth Mediterranean Squadron also used the docks at the base to load its own fuel and supplies.

The Soviet Navy had similar support points in Egypt, but the Soviets evacuated the Egyptian bases in the late 1970s, sending ships and equipment to Tartus instead.

That transformed Tartus into the Soviet 229th Naval and Estuary Vessel Support Division. In the mid 1980s, Tartus was upgraded to become the 720th Logistics Support Point for the Soviet Navy. The Russian Navy continued using Tartus after the Soviet broke up in 1991.

How has Russia managed to maintain a presence at Tartus after the collapse of the Soviet Union?

By 1990, Syria had built up debts of $13.4 billion to Moscow largely due to weapons purchases by Damascus.

In May 2005, Russian Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin signed a deal with Syrian Finance Minister Muhammad al-Hussein that wrote off 73 percent of Syria's Soviet-era debt.

Russia ensured that it continued to have base rights at Tartus under the 1971 treaty as a result of the debt write-off deal, which cleared the way for Damascus to make fresh weapons purchases from Russia.

In terms of logistics, how does Russia's presence at Tartus bolster Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime?

Tartus is the receiving point for Russian weapons shipments to Syria. The port is the country's transport hub for newly purchased arms as well as for weapons that must be returned to Russia for repair, such as attack helicopters.

The port is linked inland to a well-developed network of roads and highways.

Syria's only railway passenger connection from Tartus is linked to the port of Latakia further north.

However, the national railway operator, Chimins de Fer Syriens, also operates military transport routes from Tartus to major cities across Syria.

How does Tartus serve Russia's strategic and geopolitical interests?

Even a semipermanent base at Tartus allows the Russian Navy to expand its presence in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Russia's largest and most important military base in a foreign country is the Black Sea Fleet base in Sevastopol, Ukraine.

To deploy beyond the Black Sea, Russian warships based at Sevastopol must pass through the Bosporus Strait, which has been militarized by NATO-member Turkey.

Under the 1936 Montreux Convention, the Bosporus was deemed an international shipping lane with military restrictions. Under a 1982 amendment, Turkey now retains the right to close the Strait at its discretion in peacetime as well as during wartime.

As Russia's only Mediterranean base, that makes Tartus a vital strategic asset beyond the Bosporus.

As a deep water port, it can dock nuclear submarines.

Moscow is reportedly planning to expand the facilities so it can accommodate the Russian Navy's flagship -- the "Admiral Kuznetsov" aircraft carrier -- after 2012.

Tartus also strengthens Russia's great-power aspirations and increases its influence in regional diplomacy.

Could Russia's use of Tartus be affected by the ouster of Assad's regime?

Analysts agree that Russian vetoes of UN Security Council resolutions against Assad's crackdown on dissent, as well as Russian weapons sales to the regime, make it likely that an opposition government replacing Assad would try to strip away Russia's rights to use Tartus.

Last autumn, as popular opposition to Assad's regime was growing, Russia took steps to expand basing rights for its warships in Venezuela.

It also deployed a naval task force to Tartus, led by the "Admiral Kuznetsov" aircraft carrier, which is staying nearby for what Moscow describes as a long-term training mission in the Mediterranean and Atlantic.
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Comment Sorting
by: Anonymous
June 20, 2012 01:08
American propaganda that speak about what USA do everywhere everytime
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
June 20, 2012 15:47
There is an underlying difference in principals.
Russia instigate and corrupt - all be evil and fall.
After Russia stinked with nerve gas at intellectuals,
Gorbachev instigated China put explosive bulletholes
In protestors, instead of as usual tube-feetting hospitals.

Now in Syria, not unlike in repopulating by Russians Cuba,
Russia secretly instigate "decisive killings" - not for peace,
For Russia-like corrupt states fall under big Russia-dupas,
Or be destroyed, like Egipt that made the peace with Jews.

Or Iraq be used for precedent, invade non-Russian nations.
Or Serbia be used to awoid CIS of Yugoslavia - as example
That cannibalistic Russia hate - Russia likes feudal system,
Varanga despots saling little balerina to the Norman orgings.

Syria between two hard places - instigated use "zachistkas"
By Russian GRU and Spetcnaz - while GRU and Spetcnaz,
Trained by Germans and Brits, might be among Chaldeans
And other "halifat" supplementals in Syria by imperial "Ukaz".

Americans do often ugly things, usually instigated by Russia
That pushed-pulled by train engines, from bottom and above,
The Monarchist Russians and the new vawe of "aparatchics"
Prove USA Superpower duper mass killers, as Russians are.

USA preffer, thought be more for democracy and even bases,
Like in Japan, have no agenda to destroy-repopulate a nation,
As Russia does. Syria must be very carefull with it - or parish.
Georgia was carefull, still they invaded Abkhazia for Russians.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
June 20, 2012 05:03
A pretty revealing interview, as a matter of fact: instead of talking for 12124124th time of the sorry fate of the "unarmed civilians" who are - as we all very well know - being eaten up by Bashar al-Assad, the RFE/RL touched upon one of the REAL reasons for which George W. Obama and his friends are so desperate to oust the legitimate Syrian govt. Their (US) own ability to continue influencing events in the Middle East is being reduced by the ouster of pro-US dictator Mubarak in Egypt. No one appears to know how long the situation in Egypt will continue being unstable - therewith diminishing the US ability to carry out its criminal policies in the region.
One of the things they (US) can try to do to outweigh the effects of this loss of influence in the Middle East is by trying to reduce the influence of Russia and Iran - something that the US has been going out of its way over the last years trying to achieve and all of their efforts were in vain: Ahmadinejad and Putin have without any trouble managed to stay as presidents of Russia and Iran.
Thus, ousting Assad and consequently expelling the Russian naval base from the Syrian coast would help the US partially outweigh their loss of influence in the region. But all their efforts will lead to the outcome no different from the one that a similar US policy had on the Russian Fleet stationed in Ukraine: George W. wanted to expel the Russians from the Crimea, and instead extended the Russo-Ukrainian lease agreement until 2040 :-).
Good interview, guys, really. You see: once you leave the "important" issues - such as the Eurovision contest or the Euro football championship - even you manage to produce an interesting publication :-)!
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
June 20, 2012 17:00
Now, Eugenio you really went too far!
It doesn't surprise me that such a Russian
Located in Viena - 1954 pact started gain "par"
With movie about Viena balet on ice exitement
In Russia and their communities in the USSR,
As legitimizing Germanics, Cousins and Zcars.

Also "sound of music", army crushed Hungary
And invaded republics and Eastern Europeans.
Viena was used by the pact, as a kayote-bitch,
leuring into it the World to be eaten by the Pact.

Than it were other things, like Gelena's Arnold,
The Swarzneger, with the Russian lying movie
About good Russian police officer and a bandit,
Georgian son of WW2 deserter-brigant pusher.
20% Georgians fought in WW2, 7% were killed.

Implying that Georgians are Africans, Eugenio?
Lookup Crobber "anthropology today" m/n table.
Georgians are the top White - you a third down.
Of coarse all related - but it beats your gamble.
(Obama grandma might be loving Russia Jew)
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
June 20, 2012 17:58
Eugenio, there is some truth in your World vews, or maybe not.
But your underlying messages - genocidal Russia expansion
Is better than provoked by Russia-Brits-Bechtel 1954 pact,
USA to be as bad as Russia in Afghanistan bestialization
By forced dogma - Superpower kills, or at least bombs.

Mubarak was not a dictator, at least after Russia gone.
Russia hated him because I stopped the "six day war"
And both Egypt and Israel survived - infurriating Ivans.
Now he is down, waited for too long, by your "kikimor"?
Who's in charge? Russia-Brits-Bechtel imperial pact?

"US criminal policies" - rather pact making US criminal
By inserting Russian and Germans-Austrians arsenals
Of taking over provocateurs, not without Her's blessing.
Sure any such deads, by Russia or USA had to be hold.
I proposed some air defence, instead Iran making bomb.

Russia again - to steal land and houses from all nations
To breed ethnic Russia - they mess-up an abomination.
They incourage Iran again - under Chaldea-Persia spell,
Like they betrayed Median UN and CIS to Chaldean hell.

Russia shouldn't grabb lands and property of neighbors,
Squizing out locals, like Ukrainians - blaim your victims?
Pin "victory against NATO" on chest of Russian agents?
Ukraine didn't change ballance of powers beyound need.

"Shtaby" in East and West have both various intentions,
You overplay it, just as planed, corrupt by Russia's plan.
Both might be true, but USA was always dragged into it,
"If one have money and power, it must be fleeced by us"
The reason it falls for it - nations invadeded by Russians.

You cannot miss Eurovision and Euro football, Eugenion?
The Empire to build is make nations even in sports down.

by: Anonymous
June 20, 2012 11:07
Russia wants to conquer Anatolia. Russia will use atomic bombs on Turkey. But then Muslim Arabs will defeat Russians, and Arabians will conquer Constantinapole.

by: Konstantin from: Los angeles
June 20, 2012 16:16
Soviet Union didn't collapse - transformed back to CIS,
According to the 1936 constitution. Bases were Deterent,
Ballance of powers at the time - prevent termonuclear war.
Dissballance encourage expand Powers - East and West.

However, thought lately Russia's proxies, like both Bushes
And their governments staffed with the Russian instigators,
Look more and more like expands milder versus of Russia,
For Rusians and their 1954 pact it is raw genocide-cleanse
To breed ethnic Rusia in invaded people houses and lands.

by: james r. from: usa, new castle pa
June 20, 2012 18:24
In reply to anonymous,if Russia were to employ nuclear weapons in some future war with Turkey?, there would be no! Anatolia left to conquer. Anyway invasions!,threats of force are NATO tools.

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