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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

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Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow Russia builds key naval HQ in Syria: Missile presence worries Israel
Russia builds key naval HQ in Syria: Missile presence worries Israel PDF Print E-mail
Written by Debka   
Saturday, 25 July 2009

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The Soviet-era naval maintenance base near Tartus in Syria is to be expanded and modernized

A high-ranking Russian navy source reported July 21 that the Soviet-era naval maintenance base near Tartus in Syria is to be expanded and modernized to become "fully operational." DEBKAfile's military sources report that Russian is building the facility up as its main sea base for operations in four seas: The Atlantic and Indian Oceans and the Mediterranean and Red Seas. The upgrade of Russian port facilities at Tartus, its only foothold in the Mediterranean, will automatically enhance Moscow's strategic interests in Syria and Bashar Assad's regime.

The Russian source said that the 50 naval personnel and three berthing floats currently deployed at Tartus with accommodation for up a dozen warships will be beefed up with a new berthing float delivered by two tugboats from the Black Sea Fleet. DEBKAfile's sources disclose that those warships will include large vessels such as the nuclear-armed guided missile cruiser Peter the Great and the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, which called in at Tartus in January.

In September 2008, DEBKAfile first disclosed that the Russian Navy commander Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky and his Syrian counterpart Gen. Taleb al-Barri, had signed contracts for converting Tartus into one of Russia's most highly-developed naval infrastructures outside its territory. Its warships based there will capable of reaching the Red Sea through the Suez Canal and the Atlantic through the Strait of Gibraltar in a matter of days.

Israel is deeply concerned, according to our military sources, by the sophisticated air-defense S-300PMU-2 and Iskander-E missile systems the Russians propose to hand Syria on the pretext of installing a shield to defend the facility against air or missile attack. Moscow claims they will remain under the control of Russian crews but, according to information reaching Israel, they will be quietly and gradually handedover to the Syrian army; the Russian teams are in fact instructors.

Russia justifies this, according to DEBKAfile's Moscow sources, by the deployment of the highly sophisticated American FBX-T missile-interception radar systems at the Israeli Negev base of Nevatim.

Furthermore, Moscow will have its rejoinder for the disputed US deployment of missile interceptors in Eastern Europe. As we reported last September, the Russian Black Sea fleet and new Mediterranean-based warships will coordinate their operations under a single command. They are designed as counter-deployments to the post-Georgian-war US and NATO naval presence in the Black Sea as well as its fleets in other parts of the Mediterranean including Israel's shores.

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Background - related articles

Russia lines up with Syria, Iran against America and the West
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report

September 17, 2008, 3:07 PM (GMT+02:00)

Friday, Sept. 12, Moscow announced renovation had begun on the Syrian port of Tartus to provide Russia with its first long-term naval presence on the Mediterranean.

As the two naval chiefs talked in Moscow, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov met Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki in the Russian capital for talks on the completion of the Bushehr nuclear power plant by the end of the year.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the commander of the Russian, Navy Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky, and his Syrian counterpart, Gen. Taleb al Barri, spent all Friday working on details for the outfitting of Tartus port to accommodated increased Russian fleet Mediterranean missions not far from Israel’s shores.

Mottaki’s unannounced visit to the Russian capital focused on the timetable for Atomstroiexport to finish work on the Bushehr reactor after five years of delays.

Moscow has sharpened its tone in comments aimed at the West and the US in particular. President Dmitiry Medvedev said Friday that Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia was the equivalent for Russia of the 9/11 attack on America. Even if Georgia had become a NATO member, he said, he would not have thought twice about ordering the Russian army to go in.

Prime minister Vladimir Putin, after putting Moscow’s case on Georgia to the Western media, warned the US that stationing a missile defense shield near Russia’s borders would start an arms race in Europe. There was no basis for a new Cold War, he said.

DEBKAfile’s sources interpret Friday’s events as indicating that Russia’s leaders have determined not to declare a Cold War in Europe but to open a second anti-Western front in the Middle East.

In the second half of August, DEBKA file and DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s analysts discussed this re-orientation at length (Russia’s Second Front: Iran-Syria), disclosing that Moscow had decided to use its ties with Tehran and Damascus to challenge the United State and the West in the Middle East as well as the Caucasian, the Black Sea and the Caspian region.

The traumatic impact of the Georgia conflict on Russia’s rulers came through in the remarks of an unnamed Kremlin official quoted by the Russian media this week: “Everything has changed since the war with Georgia. What seemed impossible before is more than possible now when our friends become our enemies and our enemies our friends. Russia will respond. A number of possibilities are being considered, including hitting America where it hurts most – Iran and Syria.”

In aligning with Tehran and Damascus, Moscow stands not only against America but also Israel. This volatile world region is undergoing cataclysmic changes at a time when Israel is virtually without a fully competent prime minister and key political and military decision-making by the rest of the government is at a standstill.

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Ten Russian warships have docked at Syrian port
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report

September 23, 2008, 9:36 PM (GMT+02:00)

Israeli military and naval commanders were taken by surprise by Rear Adm. Andrei Baranov's disclosure that 10 Russian warships are already anchored at the Syrian port of Tartus, DEBKAfile’s military sources report.

Moscow and Damascus have worked fast to put in place the agreement reached in Moscow on Sept. 12 by Russian navy commander, Adm. Vladimir Wysotsky and Syrian naval commander Gen. Taleb al-Barri to provide the Russian fleet with a long-term base at Syrian ports. Israel was not aware that this many vessels were involved in the deal.

What most worries Israeli military leaders is an earlier announcement by Adm. Wysotsky that Russia’s Mediterranean assets would subjected to its Black Sea fleet command, thereby placing Russia’s warships near Israel’s shores at the service of Moscow’s contest against the US and NATO in the Caucasian. It is feared that Israel will be dragged into another cold war.

Rear Adm. Baranov disclosed that the warships in Tartus had brought engineering crews to widen and dredge the harbor to accommodate additional, fleet vessels. The crews were also working on expanding Latakia, another Syrian port, possibly for aircraft carriers or guided missile cruisers.

The Russians are making no secret of their intention of using their naval presence in Syrian ports as a deterrent to a possible Israeli air strike against Syria.

 



 
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