Russia Expanding its Role in the Mediterranean

  • Russia strengthened its naval presence in the Mediterranean.
  • Russia will expand its Tartus base.
  • Syria might seek additional partnerships.

Russia is expected to change the policy to reflect the upcoming geopolitical conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean. It should be noted that Russia does not have a traditional or historical attachment to this conflict. However, the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque by Turkey impacted the Russian Orthodox Church and caused a wave of dissatisfaction.

Russia–Turkey relations is the bilateral relationship between Russia and Turkey and their antecedent states. Relations between the two are rather cyclical.

Russia only has access to the Mediterranean Sea via a military base and a port in Tartus, Syria. Nevertheless, the base is quite small to facilitate a serious geopolitical game around the current situation. Yet, the Kremlin is ready to start drawing its own red line pertaining to the situation in the Mediterranean.

Moreover, drawing the red lines are necessary for the defense of the economic interests of Syria (or rather, Russia in Syria) on the shelf of the Mediterranean Sea and the beginning of work on geological exploration of this shelf. Russia has the necessary technologies for oil and gas exploration and production in the Mediterranean Sea.

Syria has the right to freely use its own shelf. As a result, Russian interest in Syria extends to offshore projects. Additionally, these interests require protection, primarily from the interests of Turkey and Israel. Syria can apply a well-known technique for “dividing” the Mediterranean Sea with someone else.

Perhaps Cyprus will be a partner in this division.  In this situation, there will be a third section, after the sections “Turkey-interim government of Libya” and “Egypt-Greece.” However, taking into account the specifics, this will not just be a stated position, but actually a “red line.”

It is highly likely that Russia will start the rapid expansion of the base in Tartus. This includes a squadron of warships in the roads of Syria, the beginning of exploration works on the shelf, the air defense systems on the coast of Syria, and the enabling of the demon flight zones in the Mediterranean Sea. Russia has the forces, means, and technologies.

Tartus is a city on the Mediterranean coast of Syria. It is the second largest port city in Syria (after Latakia), and the largest city in Tartus Governorate. The port holds a small Russian naval facility.

Last week, Greek media reported the increase of the Russian ships in the Eastern Mediterranean region. The question is about the formats of the presence and the nature of the confrontation. It is quite possible that with the forces and means, as well as new formats of participation in Eastern Mediterranean issues, Russia will develop as the situation in the region develops.

Meanwhile, it is clear that the strengthening of Russia’s international political and military-political potential, aimed at implementing Russian interests in various parts of the world, is just beginning. However, progress is already evident.

The Russian government is beginning to move from situational response to strategic planning, initially in the defensive plan “red lines,” and then, perhaps, in the offensive, by independently forming situations of activity.

Overall, this fall, it is evident that Russia will be strengthening its presence in the Mediterranean. There will be additional partnerships announced as well.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan chose a battle that he is not going to win. Lastly, NATO will not go into the military conflict with Russia over Turkey. In fact, France may prefer Turkey to be removed as a NATO member.

This fall will be an interesting playground in the geopolitical arena.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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