Russia Evacuates Its Syrian Naval Base

In a somewhat surprising move (given the proxy war under way), Russia has evacuated all military personnel from its small naval base in Syria. "We have neither servicemen nor civilians in Syria anymore," the newspaper Vedomosti reported quoting an unnamed Defense Ministry employee, "or Russian military instructors assigned to units of the Syrian regular army, for that matter." As The Washington Post reports, a 16-ship Russian naval task force in the eastern Mediterranean remains on post, reports said. Cyprus has made its ports available to the Russian fleet if needed, but the base at Tartus (that we described in detail here) has been Russia’s only foothold in the Middle East. A person with knowledge of the Kremlin’s decision told Russia’s RT television channel that the withdrawal reflected concerns about the risks posed by Syria’s ongoing civil war, as well as the fear of an incident involving the Russian military that could have larger consequences.


Via The Washington Post,

Russia has evacuated all military personnel from its small naval base in Syria, Russian news organizations reported Wednesday.

 

The base, at Tartus on the Mediterranean, has been Russia’s only foothold in the Middle East. Although it is a minor facility, its importance has grown as Russia continues to support the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in its war against rebel forces.

 

...

 

A 16-ship Russian naval task force in the eastern Mediterranean remains on post, reports said. Cyprus has made its ports available to the Russian fleet if needed.

 

...

 

“We have neither servicemen nor civilians in Syria anymore,” the newspaper Vedomosti reported, quoting an unnamed Defense Ministry employee. “Or Russian military instructors assigned to units of the Syrian regular army, for that matter.”

 

...

 

A person with knowledge of the Kremlin’s decision told Russia’s RT television channel that the withdrawal reflected concerns about the risks posed by Syria’s ongoing civil war, as well as the fear of an incident involving the Russian military that could have larger consequences.

 

...

 

It does not appear that the pullout from Tartus will interfere with the delivery of air-defense and anti-ship missiles by Russia to Syria. Bogdanov again defended the shipments of arms as legal and part of an existing contract. Asked when the deliveries would begin, he said that was a decision for the “supreme command.”