Naval Bases Planned for Libya, Syria

Russia has decided to establish naval bases in Libya, Syria and Yemen within a few years, a military official said Friday, in a sign of Moscow's growing foreign policy ambitions.

"It is difficult to say how much time it will take to create the bases for our fleet in these countries, but within a few years this will be done without question," the unidentified military official told Itar-Tass.

"The political decision on this question has been taken," the official said.

A Navy spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Colonel-General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of the General Staff, said it was too early to name any foreign ports that could host Russian bases.

"There are negotiations conducted with foreign governments. Such publications [on bases] may have a negative effect on the way of these talks," Nogovitsyn said, Itar-Tass reported.

Analysts have said the Syrian port of Tartus could be revived as a Russian naval base. During the Cold War, the Soviet Navy had a permanent presence in the Mediterranean, using Tartus as a supply point.

National media have reported that opening a naval base in the Libyan port of Benghazi was among the main issues discussed during Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's visit to Moscow in October last year.

Nogovitsyn said it was unclear when Russian naval bases abroad could open.