Putin signs decree allowing Russian military expansion in Syria
President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree giving the Russian defence and foreign ministries power to negotiate with the Syrian regime to gain control of additional facilities and maritime bases, the Interfax news agency reported on Friday.
The decree comes one day after Putin promoted the Russian ambassador to Syria, Alexander Yevimov, to the rank of “Special Presidential Representative” in a move analysts believe will allow Russia to consolidate its power in Syria and bypass normal diplomatic channels.
Russia currently has two permanent military bases in Syria, the Hemeimim airbase in Latakia province, from which it launches deadly strikes against opposition-held areas of Syria and a naval base in Tartus on the Mediterranean, which it has leased for 49 years from the Assad regime.
This decree will allow it to gain new bases in the war-torn Middle Eastern country.
Russia intervened in the Syrian conflict on the regime’s side in September 2015, and this intervention is considered to have been a decisive factor in the Assad regime’s continuing rule of Syria.
Thousands of people have been killed in Russian airstrikes and human rights groups have accused Russia of deliberately targeting hospitals, schools, and other civilian sites.
The intervention has taken on a neo-colonial character, with Russia gaining a stake in Syria’s economy and Russian companies taking control of the country’s phosphate resources.