The Russian navy should have a permanent presence in the Mediterranean Sea amid the conflict in Syria, said Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“This is a strategically important region,” Putin said a a military meeting, reported Bloomberg News. “We have our national interests here, linked to the need to maintain national security.”
The Russian fleet will visit 16 ports in Syria and will carry out a missile exercise, Russian officials said in the conference on Thursday.
Russia’s only naval base outside of former Soviet countries is in Syria.
According to The Associated Press, Russian officials have said that Russian navy ships in the region could be used to evacuate people and equipment from Syria.
“Resuming a permanent Russian military naval presence in the Mediterranean sea isn’t saber rattling,” Putin said.