MOSCOW, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- A supply base for the Russian navy at Tartus, Syria, will be expanded to a permanent naval base, Russian Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov said Monday.
The current facility, on the Mediterranean Sea between Turkey and Lebanon, has only a single pier, dates to 1977 and the Soviet era, and is used as a repair station and supply center for the Russian navy, its only base in the Mediterranean. Russia's defense effort of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is headquartered at the Hmeymim air base, near the city of Latakia, Syria.
"We are going to have a permanent Navy base in Tartus. We have prepared the paperwork, which is now being reviewed by other government agencies. The documents are pretty much ready, so we hope to submit them to you for ratification soon," he told the Federation Council, Russia's senate. "It will have not only docking facilities, but also a command and control system, an air defense system. A naval base needs to be able to defend itself and all its infrastructure. Of course it would have anti-submarine defense capabilities."
Leonid Slutsky, chair of the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee, told Rossiya TV the upgraded base will have comprehensive defense systems and other capabilities lacking in the current supply post.
An advanced anti-missile system already arrived at Tartus to protect the port and warships from airstrikes, Russia confirmed last week.