Some media sources recently reported that Russia was planning to set up naval facilities in Yemen, Syria and Libya, among other countries, in the next few years.
"The Russian Navy is announcing that these so-called 'news stories' have no basis in reality...They resemble a poorly overheard conversation between two strangers on the street," Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said.
The Russian Navy already dismissed these reports in mid-January, but the rumors persisted, especially after the deputy chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn said that it was too soon to name any countries where the Navy would like to deploy "basing points," but confirmed that the General Staff had backed a proposal by the Navy command to develop naval infrastructure outside Russia.
"At this stage it is too early to talk about the geographic location of the basing points. Negotiations are under way with the governments of the countries in question. Any premature disclosure could have a negative impact on the course of these negotiations," Nogovitsyn said at the time.
The Soviet-era Navy maintenance site near Tartus in Syria is the only Russian foothold in the Mediterranean.
Russian military experts have recently emphasized the importance of the network of Russian naval bases around the world, including in the Mediterranean, for the quick deployment of the Russian Navy in urgent situations.