Russia starts expansion of naval base in Syria?
Several days after the Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a document approving the expansion of the Russian naval base in Tartus, Syria, Russian commercial ships have been observed sailing to and from Syria over the weekend and on Monday.
To remind, a Russian Ministry of Defense document published on Friday said Russia signed an agreement with Syria to expand facilities and territory at the Syrian port of Tartus where the Russian port is situated.
Reports from October this year indicated Russia was mulling the establishment of a permanent naval base in Syria. Russian naval ships have been making port calls in Tartus since 1977.
The upgraded base is reportedly expected to be capable of hosting nuclear submarines and Russia’s sole aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov.
At the beginning of December this year, the Russian carrier strike group with the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov at the helm was seen 1 km from the port of Tartus. While some ships from the group entered the port there was no confirmation that the Admiral Kuznetsov did the same.
Russian aircraft carrier just less than 1km from tartus coast pic.twitter.com/2FGn8LXpk6
— Ali Hamdan (@Syrianali_) December 8, 2016
According to Bosphorus Strait observers, a number of Russian commercial Ro-Ro ships made trips to Syria loaded with military equipment.
Commercial RORO ship Sparta II (Ex-SlomanProvider), under full load, heading towards Tartous, Syria. Like Tkachenko, probably military cargo pic.twitter.com/cu2KA3Db9S
— alper böler (@alperboler) December 26, 2016
— AegeanHawk (@AegeanHawk) December 14, 2016
— Bosphorus Observer (@YorukIsik) December 25, 2016