Russia is seeking to establish a naval base in the Middle East – most likely in Syria, experts said. "For the Black Sea fleet, the Mediterranean has the highest strategic importance," the RIA Novosti and Interfax news agency quoted Admiral Vladimir Masorin as saying in the Ukrainian port city of Sebastopol. "I think a permanent presence of the Russian navy should be restored there, using the forces of the North and Baltic fleets."
During the Cold War, the Soviet navy had a permanent presence on the Mediterranean, using the Syrian port of Tartus as a supply point. Russia recently denied that it had refurbished the former site and said that it had not stationed any men or vessels at Tartus.