World Bulletin/News Desk
Claims that Russia has withdrawn all military personnel from its naval base in Syria and is trying to get a new base in Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus (GCASC) has brought into question Russia's efforts of gaining strength in the Mediterranean.
The civil war in Syria pushed Russia into re-thinking its naval base in Syria's Tartus. As experts believe, it will be impossible for Russia to have a naval base in Syria in the case of a regime change, as Russia was one of the main supporters of the Assad regime during the civil war in the country.
The efforts of Russia to have a permanent base in the Mediterranean oblige the country to have at least one logistical base in the region.
That is why, according to the recent news in Russian, English, and Greek Cypriot media, Russia has started negotiations with the GCASC over a new air base, although there is still no official statement.
The naval base in Syria's Tartus is not accepted as a proper naval base by some Russian experts. In addition, Russian authorities state there are only civilian personnel on the base, not any military personnel.
On the other hand, the claims that Russia has withdrawn all military personnel from its naval base in Syria's Tartus were denied by Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, who stated all those claims were just rumours based on no concrete decision, while indirectly confirming the military importance of Tartus.
Taking into account all available information, the base is still vitally important as it is the only land point of the Russian navy in the Mediterranean. What's more, the base has symbolic meaning for Russia showing the country's presence in the region, while it has a psychological effect as well.
"A fleet of about a dozen pieces will include submarines, aircraft carriers as well as assault ships," Russian Navy Chief Victor Cirkov said earlier this month, stating a permanent Russian fleet would be placed in the Mediterranean. Concerning the matter, Putin said Russia's presence in the region was strategically important, which was seen as an attempt to protect the country's interests in the Mediterranean.
As for the Western allies of Russia, the country's close political and economic relations with the GCASC create concern over the matter. Therefore, it is thought that European countries, England and the US in particular will not allow Russia's air base in the GCASC and will put pressure on Russia if the claims prove to be true.
During Cold War, often dated from 1947 to 1991, Russia had a permanent navy presence in Mediterranean with its fleet of 30-50 ships. Later in 1991, however, when the Soviet Union collapsed, the navy was withdrawn making U.S the only super power in the Mediterranean. Starting from 2000, Russia has been trying to revive its maritime power in the region with ruling president Vladimir Putin.Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Temmuz 2013, 11:21