Putin asks lawmakers to keep Russian navy in Syria until 2092

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday sent a draft treaty to lawmakers that could expand Moscow’s navy presence in Syria until 2092.

Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a meeting in Sochi, Russia. Wednesday, Putin sent a draft treaty to lawmakers to expand Russian naval presence in Syria until 2092. Photo by Michael Klimentyev/EPA-EFE/Kremlin
Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a meeting in Sochi, Russia. Wednesday, Putin sent a draft treaty to lawmakers to expand Russian naval presence in Syria until 2092. Photo by Michael Klimentyev/EPA-EFE/Kremlin

The draft of the proposal came after Putin’s surprise visit to Syria on Monday — during which he declared victory and announced the withdrawal of troops, adding that a Russian presence would remain at air and naval bases.

Deputy Chairman of the Committee for Defense and Security Franz Klintsevich said the move further assures Syria’s stability, which Moscow has supported politically and militarily.

The draft agreement, sent to Russia’s lower house of parliament, says it’s “defensive in nature and not directed against other governments,” and is based on the desire of both countries to strengthen and develop military cooperation.

If ratified, the agreement would extend the Russian navy’s lease by 49 years, followed by automatic 25-year extensions if both parties agree.

The naval base in Tartus is the only installation that gives Russian forces direct access to the Mediterranean Sea — unlike its base in Crimea, which can be hindered by Turkish troops.

By Susan McFarland