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Russia weighs two reconstruction strategies for Syria

In the face of US sanctions, Moscow is considering whether the outsourcing of reconstruction efforts for Syria may be better for Russia than a long-term presence.
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On Dec.17, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov visited Syria for a meeting with President Bashar Al-Assad. Following the encounter, Moscow announced ambitious plans to broaden its support for Syria’s reconstruction. This could mean $500 million for the development of the Tartus seaport — including building a grain hub — with a view to link the Syrian Mediterranean coast to the Arab Gulf via a railway. Russia is also eyeing investment in the exploration of oil and gas and the allocation of $200 million to restore a fertilizer plant in Homs.

The Russian government has already adopted decisions to, first, deliver another 100,000 tons of grain as humanitarian aid — from the end of this year until spring — and, second, to provide $17 million for UN relief efforts in Syria. These announcements came on the eve of the 12th meeting of the Russian-Syrian Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation to be held Dec. 23-25 in Moscow. The commission is co-chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov and Syrian Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Walid Muallem.

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