Russia seeking to set up naval bases abroad?

July 28, 2012


Russia seeks to set up naval bases abroad

Naval chief confirms talks with Cuba, Vietnam and the Seychelles about setting up overseas facilities for Russian ships

Associated Press

Russia is talking to Cuba, Vietnam and the Seychelles about housing Russian navy ships, its naval chief has said.

Vice-admiral Viktor Chirkov told the RIA Novosti state news agency Russia was in talks with the three countries about setting up maintenance and supply facilities but would not give further details.

Russia’s only existing naval base outside the former Soviet Union is located in the Syrian port of Tartus. A squadron of Russian navy ships, including several assault ships carrying marines, is heading to Tartus in a show of support for a longtime ally that Moscow has protected from international sanctions and continues to supply with weapons.

Chirkov’s statement marked a sharp about-face for Russia, which closed a Soviet-era naval base at Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay and a spy base in Lourdes in Cuba in the early 2000s during President Vladimir Putin’s first term.

Along with financial reasons, that move was part of Putin’s bid to improve ties with the US. But relations with Washington deteriorated and Putin, who was re-elected to a third term in March, has grown increasingly eager to challenge Washington. During his election campaign, he accused the US of encouraging protest against his 12-year rule in order to weaken Russia and pledged to strengthen the nation’s military might.


Russia denies plans for new navy bases abroad

BBC News

Russia’s Defence Ministry has denied reports Moscow its planning to set up its first new overseas navy bases since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Earlier, a news agency quoted Russia’s navy chief as saying that Cuba, Vietnam and the Seychelles were being considered as possible sites.

But the ministry said that Vice Adm Viktor Chirkov had never made the alleged remarks.

A lack of money after 1991 led to the closure of most Russian bases abroad.

It closed a base in Vietnam in 2002, and currently has bases only in Ukraine and Syria. President Vladimir Putin has pledged to restore Russia’s military might.

In recent years, Moscow has expanded its navy’s operations overseas, including by taking part in international anti-piracy operations near Somalia.

“It’s true that we are continuing work on providing the navy with bases outside the Russian Federation,” the RIA-Novosti news agency quoted Vice Adm Chirkov as saying in an interview.

According to the agency, he added that Moscow was “working out the issue of creating sites for material and technical support on the territory of Cuba, the Seychelles and Vietnam”.

However, the defence ministry later insisted Vice Adm Chirkov had said no such thing, and that the subject had not been broached during the interview.

“Issues concerning international relations are not part of the responsibilities of the commander-in-chief of the navy,” the ministry said in a statement posted on its website.

It added that the reported remarks were a “fantasy of their author, who preferred to prioritise sensationalism above competency and professional ethics”.

In 2002, during Mr Putin’s first term as president, Russia pulled out of the Cam Ranh base in Vietnam, opened in its then-communist ally at the height of the Cold War in 1979.

The closure came after the the original 25-year lease expired and Vietnam demanded a higher rent, but analysts say a desire to improve relations with the United States also played a role.

The country’s remaining overseas bases are in Sevastopol, in Ukraine, where Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is housed, as well as a small logistical support base in the Syrian port of Tartus.


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