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Russian navy chief calls for permanent presence in Mediterranean

Russia's navy chief on Friday called for restoring the country's permanent presence in the Mediterranean Sea, news agency reports said.

"The Mediterranean is a strategically important zone for Russia's Black Sea Fleet," Admiral Vladimir Masorin said while visiting the fleet's base in the Ukrainian city of Sevastopol, RIA-Novosti and Interfax-AVN reported.

"The objective is the permanent presence of the Russian navy in the Mediterranean," Masorin said.

Soviet navy ships used to be based at Syria's Mediterranean port of Tartus, and Russia still maintains a technical base there to serve its military vessels that regularly go into the Mediterranean.

Independent military analyst Alexander Golts said that from a military point of view it did not make "any sense" for Russia to be present in the Mediterranean.

Commentators have suggested in the past that Russia might seek to relocate part of its Black Sea Fleet to the Mediterranean if it fails to get an extension of its agreement with Western-leaning Ukraine on leasing the Sevastopol port when it expires in 2017.