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WASHINGTON – Russia quietly is renewing a request to set up an air and naval base in Cyprus with the goal of being better able to deploy troops to Syria to back the government of President Bashar al-Assad against possible Turkish and Western intervention, informed sources have told Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

There apparently has been increased contact between Cypriot and Russian diplomats in recent weeks – over plans to set up a naval base at Limassol and use the Andreas Papandreou Air Base at Paphos.

Sources add that any such agreement would be inconsistent with Cyprus’ desire to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, even though it is the only member of the European Union that doesn’t belong to Western security alliance.

For years, NATO member Turkey has blocked Cyprus’ membership because of the island’s predominant Greek influence and central government which commands the southern portion of the island.

Turkey controls the northern portion.

But sources say Russia has begun showing a more assertive posture in the Mediterranean.

With it becoming questionable for the Russians to continue maintaining their Syrian naval base at Tartus, Cyprus has become more desirable.

The naval base at Limassol and the air base at Paphos would serve Moscow’s purpose for amphibious operations and the air base for support of ground troops that could be deployed rapidly, especially to Syria.

“In that case, the request made by Moscow would mark a serious intensification or escalation of Russian ambitions and capabilities for power projection into the Middle East,” according to a report from the think-tank Jamestown Foundation.

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