As a generous reward for helping Syria fight his enemies in its ongoing six-year civil war, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is now letting Russia build a permanent naval base on its land to help it expand its military influence in the Middle East and around the world, the Reuters website reports today (October 10, 2016).
The move -- announced by Russian Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov -- is further evidence Russia is building up its capabilities in Syria despite a partial drawdown last March.
"By doing this, Russia is not only increasing its military potential in Syria, but in the entire Middle East," Senator Igor Morozov, a member of the upper house of parliament's International Affairs Committee, said.
The navy base plan -- which will involve upgrading and expanding an existing naval facility at the port of Tartus that Moscow leases from Syria -- is part of a push to expand a new military presence abroad, as U.S.-Russian relations are currently the most hostile they have been since the end of the cold war in 1991. Last week, Russia said it is planning to reopen Soviet-era bases it once had in Cuba and Vietnam.