Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu reported Tuesday: “Last week, the Commander-in-Chief (President Vladimir Putin) approved the structure and the bases in Tartus and in Hmeimim (air base). We have begun forming a permanent presence there.” The deal with Damascus covers the expansion of the Tartus naval facility, Russia’s only naval foothold in the Mediterranean, and grants Russian warships access to Syrian waters and ports. Russia may keep 11 warships at Tartus, including nuclear vessels. The agreement is for 49 years and could be prolonged. The Hmeimim air base, can now be used by Russia indefinitely, according to the deal.