Russia plans naval bases in Syria, Yemen and Libya

16 January 2009
Russia has signaled its intention to establish naval bases in Syria, Yemen and Libya in the coming years.

An unnamed officer from the General Naval Staff is quoted by Russia’s official Itar-Tass news agency outlining plans for new bases at Tartus in Syria, Socotra Island in Yemen, and Tripoli in Libya.

“The political decision on this issue has been made. It is difficult to say now how much time will be needed to create bases of our navy in these countries, but it is undoubted that it will be done in several years,” the official says.

“The base on the Socotra Island is needed, in particular, for ensuring security of navigation of Russian civilian ships by warships in the Arabian Sea and in the Gulf of Aden.”

There has talk for some time that Russia intends to reopen its former Cold War naval base at Tartus. The latest plan would represent a significant expansion of Moscow’s ambitions.

Russia is keen to broaden its commercial and military presence in the region. In the last decade, arms sales to the region by Moscow have been barely a tenth of those of the US (MEED 26:9:08).

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