Russian President Vladimir Putin today signed into law a bill that ratifies a key basing deal with Syria, ensuring Russia access to the Hmeymim Air Base in Syria’s coastal Latakia Province over the long-term.
The deal, which was initially negotiated in January, is only now finalized, and gives the Russian military 49 years of access to the base. Both sides have the option to extend the deal for two additional 25-year periods.
In the near-term, the base is seen as benefiting the Assad government by ensuring Russia has a place to keep warplanes that have been supporting them in the protracted Syrian War. For Russian officials, this is much more about the long-term, however.
Russia views its Tartus Naval Base, their sole naval base in the Mediterranean, as particularly vital, and are expanding the base under a separate deal with Syria. The Hmeymim deal allows Russia to keep planes in the same province, ensuring they’ll be able to defend the base if a naval war broke out.