17 December 2019 Russia will invest $500 million in Syrian port of Tartus

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov has announced plans to invest $500 million in the Syrian port of Tartus, turning it into a commercial port, according to Reuters. The investment seeks to build a grain hub and boost Russian presence in Middle East markets. Russia is the world’s largest wheat exporter and its grain supplies to Syrian Bashar al-Assad’s regime have increased significantly since 2015. Tartus port was rented by Russia in 2017 for a period of 49 years and the works could begin in 2020. Moscow will also deliver 100,000 tonnes of grain in humanitarian aid to Syria by the end of December. Tartus also hosts a military facility, which is the only naval Russian foothold in the Mediterranean and for which there are also plans of expansion and modernisation. On 17 December, Russian Defence Ministry informed that both Russia and Syria carried out their first joint military drills near Tartus, which involved over 2,000 troops.