The Russian-language Izvestia newspaper’s source at the Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed the existing infrastructure of Khmeimim, Russia’s current air base in Syria, will be expanded substantially, enabling the deployment of heavy aircrafts from Khmeimim in the near future, Observer reported.
Meantime, the RIA Novosti news agency reported that Russia will not deploy nuclear weapons on a Permanent Basis in Khmeimim airbase.
Khmeimim will be surrounded by ramparts to protect against enemy fire and bombing. The base will be outfitted with new radio-technical equipment—including an air traffic control system—and a full-fledged military town for the Russian troops stationed there.
The Russian Defense Ministry source told Izvestia that, although Khmeimim’s expansion has been planned since the end of 2015, the deal wasn’t official until two days ago.
In early August, Moscow and Damascus signed an agreement giving Khmeimim to Russia in perpetuity, free of charge and out of the jurisdiction of the Syrian government.
Russian experts believe their military presence will benefit the region, despite some inevitable pushback from nearby Arab monarchies.
According to the source, blueprints of the new Khmeimim include a loading dock for Antonov An-124 Ruslan heavy military transport aircrafts.
“When Russian air forces first entered Syria, Syrian armed forces were demoralized. Our support has helped restore their military capabilities. Russia understands that if we do not take these necessary measures, large-scale terrorist threats will eventually be a reality,” Franz Klintsevich, a Russian State Duma senator and first deputy chairman of the Committee for the Defense and Security, told the newspaper. “We must do something—but we are not able to find common ground with the West on joint actions. Therefore, we strengthen relations with the regional players: Syria, Iran and Iraq.”
He went on to say that Khmeimim will be the base for Russian armed forces and appropriate infrastructure will be built there.
“Our soldiers will live in dignity. Military air forces will be increased [in the future] in accordance with the bilateral agreement between Russia and Syria but, so far, in terms of solving the problems that exist at the base, there are enough forces and means there,” Klintsevich added.
Klintsevich told the newspaper that “(for now) the nuclear weapons and heavy bombers will not be placed there on a permanent basis, because it would be in violation of international agreements and would create very severe problems”.