MOSCOW (Sputnik) — In October the Russian Defense Ministry revealed plans to establish a permanent naval base in the western Syrian port city of Tartus where it has been keeping a small naval maintenance and support facility since 1977.
"I think…infrastructure in Tartus could be upgraded to our specifications in up to two years [after the signing of the agreement]," Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security, said in an interview with RIA Novosti.
"I also believe that during this period the facility could be transformed into a fully-fledged naval base able to provide the full spectrum of maintenance and repair services for combat and auxiliary ships," Ozerov said.
The lawmaker added that the agreement with Damascus could be signed for 49 years, as it is a rather common practice worldwide.
"Probably, the agreement will be not permanent, but for a period of 49 years, as media reported earlier… Half a century is a sufficient period to invest in one or another territory, knowing that you will use it. But we should be aware of how long this territory and the water zone are available to carry out the works there."
Ozerov noted that the proposed limitation of the term of the agreement would not affect the plans to modernize the Russian naval base.