It is just a blip on the globe. No importance to get worked up about.
The site, at the port of Tartus, is little more than a pier, fuel tanks and some barracks. But it is the last Russian military base outside the former Soviet Union, and its only Mediterranean fueling spot, sparing Russia’s warships the trip back to their Black Sea bases through straits in Turkey, a NATO member.
More recently, the site’s main asset, a floating machine shop that is intended to repair naval ships and extend Russia’s sea power into the Mediterranean, was itself in need of repairs after malfunctioning twice at sea.
The barracks, set amid palm trees according to photographs, house about 50 Russian sailors, while another 190 sailors stay onboard the floating repair shop.
“Looks scary, doesn’t it?” Ruslan Aliyev, a Russian military analyst, noted sarcastically of photographs of the repair boat, a rusty relic made in Poland in 1969.
The footprint is so tiny and undermanned, he said, that it might be indefensible in a conflict. In that case, he said, the Russian sailors there now would likely try to preserve their equipment and avoid capture by putting out to sea in the floating machine shop.