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Russia has started dredging at a Syrian port where it maintains a logistical supply point with a possible eye to turning it into a full-fledged naval base, a respected Russian business daily said Friday.
Tartus, the second most important Syrian port on the Mediterranean, could be transformed into a base for Black Sea Fleet warships when they are redeployed from the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol, Kommersant daily said, quoting sources in Russia's diplomatic service and the Defense Ministry.
Vladimir Zimin, a senior economic advisor at the Russian Embassy to Syria, said Russia had simultaneously launched a modernization project at the port of Latakia, 90 km to the north of Tartus.
The paper quoted an anonymous source at the Defense Ministry as saying that Moscow was planning to form a squadron led by the Moskva missile cruiser within the next three years to operate in the Mediterranean Sea on a permanent basis, in particular for joint antiterrorist exercises with NATO forces.