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MOSCOW, March 21 (Itar-Tass) – Russian warships will tank up in Beirut, Lebanon, instead of the Syrian port of Tartus where the Russian Navy has a sustainment center /PMTO/, because of the armed conflict in Syria, a Russian military and diplomatic source told Itar-Tass on Thursday.
"A sharp escalation of the armed conflict in Syria and the speculations around the call to Tartus by our ships are making us look for safer ports for their business alls. One of such ports is certainly in Lebanon's Beirut. This work is underway already.
The source referred to the recent visit to Beirut by a Baltic Fleet task force comprising the Yaroslav Mudry patrol frigate and two large landing ships: the Kaliningrad and the Alexander Shabalin. "According to the task force command, our sailors liked the local authorities' arrangements for the business call," he added.
The official underlined that Russia was not giving up its sustainment base in Tartus and that it was not looking for new locations of supply bases in the Mediterranean. "Tartus remains the only official basing site of Russian ships. When events in Syria become more predictable, we'll be able to decide on further use of the sustainment center," the military diplomat said.