Friday, February 22nd, 2019

Is Russia returning to establish a base in Somalia


The “floating workshop” in Tartus, Latakia was Russia’s last stronghold abroad. Before the start of the Syrian conflict, it was used only when our ships in the Mediterranean Sea needed refueling or repairing and was manned by only a few people. In 2010-2012, the base underwent full-scale modernization, after which the logistics point was transformed into a fully-fledged naval base. Today, 2,000 specialists are employed at Tartus and even large aircraft carriers can be based there. This base is indispensable in the event of a restoration of Russia’s naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea. And this does not seem so far off.

Another outpost of Russian troops in the Mediterranean Sea is the Khmeimim airbase. This base’s tasks include not only the accommodation and support of our aircraft in Syria, but also maintaining a balance of forces against NATO in the region.

Now unofficial information has surfaced that several Russian military bases are to be built in Syria. This in particular concerns an airbase in the area of Shairat southeast of Homs and near the city of Qamishli on the border with Turkey and Iraq. There are also various reports on deploying Russian military units in at least two districts of Latakia.


Bases in Aden and Socotra were among the USSR’s most important military assets. Our planes could theoretically reach the American base of Diego Garcia from these points. After Soviet troops’ departure from Somalia, Yemen became the basing point for our fleet and a communication and control pivot for Russia over the Red Sea and Horn of Africa.

Now we are cautiously negotiating the establishment of a logistics point in Yemen. Abdullah Saleh, the former president of the country and the main military ally of Yemeni Houthis controlling the north of the country and the capital of Sana, has issued a relevant statement on this. The Houthis and troops loyal to President Saleh are effectively resisting an invasion by the Persian Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia, and are ready to provide Russia with strategic bases in exchange for support.

It would be shortsided on Russia’s part to refuse such a generous offer, which would return Russian control over the maritime traffic in the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, Aden, and other key logistic routes in the region.


Another legacy of the Soviet era is the naval and air base at Berbera in Somalia which allowed Russia to control the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, and the Horn of Africa. This airfield with the longest runway in Africa and a deep water port was built specifically for our military.
The base also featured an important communications and intelligence center. We left behind a premises which could house up to 1,500 people plus storage for fuel and missiles. After the USSR’s withdrawal, the base was immediately occupied by the United States.

Berbera and its assets are now controlled by the self-proclaimed Somaliland pirate state for whom it is a main source of income. The United Arab Emirates has expressed interest in reviving a military base there.

For Russia, returning to this base would be extremely beneficial as port of a “package” including the above-mentioned Socotra. Overall, these bases could allow full stability to be restored in the region and complete the comprehensive revival of the presence of the Russian fleet in various parts of the world ocean.

So far this news about Russia returning to Somalia is a fake news

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