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Russia to Keep Its Air Group in Syria for 49 Years (At Least)

The agreement on the Russian presence in Khmeimim airbase is valid for 49 years and can be renewed for a further 25

The State Duma ratified a protocol on the deployment of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ (AF) air group in Syria on Friday.

The protocol to the agreement between Russia and the Syrian Arab Republic to deploy the Russian AF air group in Syria was signed in Damascus in January. It handles the issues of deploying the Russian air group, along with its movable and immovable properties. The documents stipulates that the Syrian side shall carry out the outside guard of the Russian military base and the shore borders of the logistics center, whereas the Russian side shall provide anti-aircraft defense and interior guard, as well as uphold public order in the deployment area.

According to Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Security, former Commander of the Airborne-Landing Forces Vladimir Shamanov, "It concerns development of a comprehensive international legal base for Russia’s presence in the region that has been and will remain a source of many contradictions for the near future," the MP said.

"The presence [in Syria] of the air force base is a definitive stability factor, whereas the proven world-recognized effectiveness of Russian armaments and the implementation of our humanitarian activities all contribute to the growth of our state’s international role," he added.

According to Russian Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pankov, the protocol sets an international legal framework that specifies the terms of the Russian AF air group in Syria, which "helps fully execute its activity." The agreement and the protocol will be valid for 49 years since their signing with the possibility to further prolong them for 25 years. "This will strengthen our country’s positions regarding this issue," Pankov said, adding that the annual costs to fulfill the protocol were around 20 mln rubles ($332,316) bankrolled by the Russian Defense Ministry as part of Russia’s federal budget.

In his turn, Chairman of the State Duma Committee for International Affairs Leonid Slutsky explained that the document finalized legal provisions regarding the presence of the Russian AF air group in Syria and set out "the land plot boundaries, social protection of the military and tax remissions for Russian contractors that will build facilities for the Russian airbase in Syria."

As he put it, the importance of the protocol’s ratification "can hardly be overestimated.""Given the situation with terrorist groups in Syria, we, unfortunately, realize that our military will be there for long time. We will always stay at the forefront of the fight against terrorism in Syria, preventing its expansion into Russia and Europe," Slutsky concluded.

Source: TASS

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