MOSCOW (Sputnik) — An agreement between Russia and Syria on the expansion and upgrades of the Russian naval maintenance facility in the Syrian port of Tartus was signed on January 18.
"Expansion and modernization works are beginning this spring and will take about five years… There is no talk of a full-fledged base, it is very expensive," the source said.
The source added that the works would focus on dredging operations to allow cruisers and even possibly aircraft carriers to use the facility's infrastructure.
According to the source, Russia also needs to develop the facility's ground infrastructure, through construction of canalization, electricity generation facilities and barracks for the servicemen.
The deal stipulates that 11 Russian vessels can be present in the harbor of Tartus at once, including the ships equipped with with nuclear marine propulsion, provided that nuclear and environmental safety guidelines are respected.
Russia will carry out the seaborne and airborne protection of the base, while Syria will be responsible for the land security. Russia will be able to deploy temporary mobile outposts beyond the base, if coordinated with the Syrian side.
Russia will have the right to renovate, rebuild and demolish the building, do construction work, including underwater, and set up offshore platforms.
Syria will not make any objections related to the military activities of the base, which will also be beyond Damascus' jurisdiction.
Syria also pledges to solve any conflicts that may arise if a third party objects to the activities of the base. The agreement is valid for 49 years and would be prolonged automatically every 25 years, unless one of the two states decides to withdraw from it.