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New law allows Russian forces to remain in Syria for 49 years

July 27, 2017 at 7:03 pm

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a joint press conference on 28 March 2017 [Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency]

Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday legally ratified the presence of a Russian air base in Syria which will allow his forces to remain in the country for at least another 49 years.

Russia was handed the Khmeimim Air Base located south-east of the city of Latakia for its intervention in the Syrian war in September 2015. The decision by Moscow to intervene was widely seen as move to exert Putin’s influence in the region.

A treaty between Russia and Syria was signed on 18 January 2017. While it provided the legal basis for the presence of Russian forces in Syria it also doubled the space for warships in Russia’s only Mediterranean port and secured rights to an air base that was due to have a second runway built.

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The protocols ratified by Putin spells out further details about Russia’s jurisdiction over the space and issued related to the status of Russian servicemen, members of their families and civilian personnel.

Russian News Agency TASS revealed that the document “specifies immunities and privileges, as well as the mechanisms for assistance on the issues of jurisdiction and legal aid on cases pertaining to civilian, criminal and administrative offenses.”

It also confirmed that the duration of the terms agreed in the protocol will be 49 years and that there will also be an automatic extension for periods of 25 years subsequently.