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Explainer: Russia’s Mediterranean port in Syria

Several Russian warships have arrived in Tartus in western Syria, and this could affect a potential conflict with NATO over Ukraine.
Syria Tartus

The Russian Ministry of Defense said Friday that six landing ships arrived in the port of Tartus in western Syria, located in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Syria’s official news outlet SANA also reported the story. Landing ships are large naval vessels that can carry smaller warships and amphibious vehicles. 

The news demonstrated the continued importance of Tartus, which is the only Mediterranean port that Russia has access to. Russia built a naval facility there in 1971, but its presence gained more media coverage after the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011. Armed opposition forces ultimately pushed into the neighboring coastal province of Latakia, but the Russian military intervention in 2015 turned the tide of the war in the Syrian government’s favor. 

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