Russia to expand its airbase in Syria
On July 6, Russian President Vladimir Putin submitted to the State Duma an additional protocol to the agreement on the Russian airbase in Syria, according to Vedomosti. The document was signed in Damascus in January 2017 and regulates a number of issues that were not reflected in the basic agreement on the establishment of the airbase, signed in August 2015 and ratified by the State Duma in August 2016.
Leonid Slutsky, the chairman of the State Duma's international affairs committee, had earlier declared that the MPs will consider the issue of ratification of the protocol on July 14.
According to the text of the document, the territory of the Russian Khmeimim airbase will expand. The protocol establishes that Russia and Syria give each other free access to the general infrastructure of the air base (which is located on the territory of a civilian airport), the Russian side can hire both Russian and Syrian contractors, Russian aircraft can be involved in search and rescue operations in the interests of saving the crews of Syrian planes and helicopters, as well as provide the Syrian side with information about the air and meteorological conditions the Syrian province of Latakia.
The protocol also regulates the question of how and who should respond to violations by Syrian and Russian citizens on the territory of the base and beyond.
Unlike the termless agreement of 2015, the protocol is set to for 49 years, if the parties do not have objections.