posted on Jul, 13 2006 @ 01:53 PM
A dispute with the Ukraine and an interest in having a more significant presence in the middle east is encourgaging Russia to seek an alternative
location for its Black Sea fleet. The Russians are dredging the Syrian port of Tarsus and is making moderization improvements to the the port of
Latakia. Moskva, the Black Sea Fleet's flagship missile cruiser is expected to lead a Russian military squadron that will be permanently assigned to
the Mediterranean according to the Russian defense ministry. Russia is also courting Turkey and Iran as possible locations for its fleet.
Russia may be planning to move its Black Sea Fleet to the Syrian port of Tarsus.
Russia's Black Sea Fleet currently uses a range of naval facilities in the Ukrainian region of Crimea. They operate in the region under a 1997
agreement that allowed Russia to continue its presence in the former Soviet republic for rent of $93 million per year.
The fleet is not scheduled to withdraw until 2017. However the Ukraine has recently voiced concerns that Russia is not paying enough for the
facilities and has demanded that a new agreement be signed. Russia says that it will not make any concessions and negotiations between Russia and the
Ukraine have stalled. On June 23, 2006, Ukrainian officials attempted to seize a building and equipment belonging to the Black Sea Fleet, further
aggravating the disagreement.
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Countering US influence in the middle east is most likely also weighing on the Russians. On the surface it may seem like a threat to the US and it
allies, but a Russian naval force in the region could add stability to the region. Even during the "Cold War" the US and the Soviet Union kept the
lines of communications sufficiently open that head to head confrontations between the two were avoided. Whether this develops into a new "Cold War"
or whether it ushers in an era of peace in the region, only time will tell.
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[edit on 23-7-2006 by DontTreadOnMe]