ISW Releases New Study on Russian Naval Base in Syria

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ISW Senior Naval Analyst Christopher Harmer sheds light on Russia's naval base in Syria in his latest Backgrounder, " Russian Naval Base Tartus."

The Syrian port of Tartus is the only naval base outside of the former Soviet Union still held by the Russian military, and the Russian government has asserted its strategic significance.

Current Russian activities deviate from the depiction of Tartus as a critical sustainment port supporting the expansion of Russian naval capability. Instead, they suggest that Russia is using Tartus as a political lever, both to affect the outcome of the Syrian civil war and to maintain legitimate access to a strategically located facility nested in the Arab world.

This Backgrounder details the capabilities of the Russian facility at Tartus, its history and background, current activities at the port, and its political significance to both nations. Russia’s ongoing use of the port of Tartus provides some insight into her real interests and capabilities to affect the current crisis in Syria. 

To speak with Christopher Harmer, please contact Hilary Polak at or at (202) 293-5550.