While the Trump administration appears set to withdraw US troops from Syria in the not too distant future, as hinted by the recent decision to reverse the Obama-era decision to stop arming “moderate rebels” fighting the Assad regime, Vladimir Putin has a slightly different strategic vision for the proxy war-torn nation.
On Wednesday, the Russian president signed a law ratifying a deal with the Syrian government allowing Russia to keep its air base in Syria for almost half a century, Reuters reported.
Under the original deal signed in this January in Damascus, Russia can use its Hmeymim air base in Latakia Province which it has used to carry out air strikes against forces opposing President Bashar al-Assad, Russia could modify the terms of its presence in the country. So with the US on its way out, Putin made it clear that clear that Russia isn’t going anywhere from the one nation that has emerged as a key regional presence for Russia in the middle-east.
The Russian president approved the agreement on Wednesday, after the two chambers of the Russian parliament backed it earlier this month, according to the government’s official information portal. The document says Russian forces will be deployed at the Hmeymim base for 49 years with the option of extending that arrangement for 25-year periods.
The Hmeymim airbase has been at the heart of Moscow’s military foray since it intervened in the conflict in September 2015, helping turn the tide in favor of Assad, as well as disrupt key ISIS oil supply lines which have resulted in the imminent collapse of the Islamic State.
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