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Russian bases in Cyprus impossible for geopolitical reasons - analysts

February 10, 2015, 16:40 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© AP Photo/Petros Karadjias

MOSCOW, February 10. /TASS/. The latest media speculations over the possibility Russian military bases may emerge in Cyprus someday have instantly stirred world public opinion, while in reality not the slightest chance of this exists for purely geopolitical reasons, polled military analysts have told TASS.

In the run-up to his visit to Moscow due on February 25 President Nicos Anastasiades, of Cyprus, told TASS in an interview that Nicosia and Moscow were negotiating extra opportunities that might be granted to Russia in case of humanitarian operations or emergencies. He explained that Russian military planes and naval ships might be allowed to use ports in Cyprus for addressing the effects of emergencies or for carrying out humanitarian operations.

"Speculations about the placement of Russian bases in Cyprus began in 2007, during the banking crisis in that country. Russia then provided heavy material support, which enabled Cyprus to effectively address the problem. The option in question was offered in a gesture of reciprocity. But then the West exerted counter-pressures and the issue was frozen indefinitely," the president of the Geopolitical Problems Academy, Konstantin Sivkov, told TASS.

Resistance to the possibility of placing Russian military bases in Cyprus will continue, because for NATO it would be literally ‘a bone in the throat.’ The EU countries will not let Cyprus give Russia a chance to deploy its logistics facilities. Also, launching such a project just in order to let Russian military planes land in Cyprus for refueling would be too costly," the analyst believes.

"True, Russia would like to have its bases or ports of call in the Mediterranean, in particular, for its ocean-going fleet, which would greatly benefit from having a stopover on the way while making long southbound voyages from the North for replenishing food reserves, doing repairs and giving the crews some time for rest and leisure. For this reason Moscow’s interest in ports in Cyprus is quite natural," the deputy director of the RAS Institute of US and Canada Studies, Major-General Pavel Zolotaryov, Ret. has told TASS.

"Russia is actively building relations with its near neighbor Turkey, of which the just-agreed mega project for laying the Turkish Stream gas pipeline is clear evidence. Turkey is very jealous about Cyprus, which remains split into two zones — Turkish and Greek. Russia should act in this region with utmost caution," Zolotaryov said.

"Regrettably, Russia abandoned its naval base in Cam Ranh to hand it over to Vietnam. But the runway there is still in place and Hanoi has nothing against letting Moscow use it again, if necessary. But there will be no Russian naval base there anymore. Vietnam has refused to allow any other country use that facility, either," Zolotaryov said.

"As for Cuba, Russia closed its radio-electronic surveillance center too early. We should not have hurried to do that, because the United States has such intelligence gathering centres around the world," Zolotaryov said.

"One should not consider in earnest the possibility Russian Air Force planes and naval ships might use bases in Cyprus. Cyprus is a European country, and it will certainly be confronted with the question if the European Union and NATO will allow visits by Russian ships and planes. If Turkey, a member of NATO, agrees with that, too, is also a big question," the president of the International Center for Geopolitical Analysis, Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, Ret. told TASS. "Besides, before Russian planes might be able to land in Cyprus and Russian military ships pull into its ports heavy investments would have to be made. Infrastructures would have to be re-adjusted to military requirements. And that would involve great risks of losing the invested resources."

"For Russia it is far more important to retain the base at Tartus, Syria, where we had a repair facility. The situation there has now stabilized, but no Russian ships visit it for the time being. Russia should help Syria gain the upper hand over the Islamic State militants and retain the Tartus base. The authorities in Damascus are interested in it, too," Ivashov said."Talks should be continued with friendly Vietnam about using the Cam Ranh base as a joint airport. Besides, Vietnam’s sea port has six piers for military ships and Russia might be allowed to use six of them by mutual agreement," Ivashov said.

"The main task Russia’s military leadership should keep in mind regarding the country’s foreign naval bases is to come closer to Latin America for the sake of containing US expansionist plans," he said in conclusion.

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