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Russia: new naval bases abroad?

Russia is looking to set up naval bases abroad, Russia’s navy chief reportedly said today.

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Russian Navy sailors stand on the deck of their ship during a Navy Day parade rehearsal on Neva River in St. Petersburg on July 29, 2011. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia is looking to set up naval bases abroad for the first time since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia’s navy chief told the state-run RIA Novosti news service today. However, Russia's Defense Ministry is denying that Vice-Admiral Viktor Chirkov, the navy’s commander-in-chief, made the remarks, BBC News reported.

“We are working on establishing navy bases outside Russia,” Chirkov said in an interview, according to the RIA Novosti news agency, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. “We aim to set up resupply bases in Cuba, the Seychelles and Vietnam.”

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After the break-up of the Soviet Union, Russia closed most overseas naval bases because they were too costly to maintain, but President Vladimir Putin is keen to expand the country’s military, BBC News reported.

Currently, Russia has only two naval bases abroad, according to BBC News: one in Sevastopol, Ukraine, home to Russia's Black Sea Fleet, and one in Syria.

According to Reuters:

The fate of Russia's only naval facility outside the former Soviet Union, a maintenance and supply facility in the Syrian port of Tartous, is uncertain because of the conflict in Syria.

Vietnam’s President Truong Tan Sang is currently visiting Russia, and he said in an interview broadcast by Voice of Russia radio that his country is prepared to allow Russia to set up a servicing facility in Cam Ranh Bay, a former Soviet naval base, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters at the Pentagon today that Russia has “a right to enter into military agreements and relationships” with other nations, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. He added, “I’m aware of the reports, but I don’t know that an agreement has been reached between the Russians and Cubans on a base.”

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