Here is an interesting piece from KP. Star reporters Alexander Kosh and Dmitry Steshin were allowed to visit a brand new Russian military air base in Syria.
The Syrian government had granted to Russia for her new base a rocky piece of desert at the Khmeimi air base near the Syrian city of Latakia. Not much further away is the naval base of Tartus.
The tempo of construction going on at Khmeimi is amazing. Especially considering that there was absolutely no infrastructure here before.
At first asphalt was laid down – it is still so fresh that it feels sticky to the souls of the shoes. The season for sandstorms is at hand. This is a very fine sand, bright yellow, which gets into everything.
The second problem was water. Workers refurbished an old water tower and installed filters; the water is good enough now that one can drink it right from the faucet. But people continue to bring a crazy amount of bottled water onto the base. There are no rules about how much one can eat or drink: In the cafeteria, people just take as much food and water as they like.
The cafeteria (mess hall, in American parlance) is a large white tent which, according to one of the cooks interviewed, can easily accommodate 3,000 diners. Which is not the number of people there now, just the capacity.
Ten mobile kitchens, fueled by solar power, prepare the food.
Cook Lydia Tychkina listed the following food items on the menu: Meatballs, chicken, borsht, shchi (cabbage soup), salad (which, in Russia, usually means cucumbers and tomatoes), fritters, rolls. According to Lydia, the food is brought in from Russia, and it is fresh and tasty. “We have got accustomed to the weather here,” she added. “We have adapted. And the locals have been very nice to us.”
The correspondents next visited one of the living modules. There was a huge contrast between the furnace-like heat outdoors (over 35 degrees C) and the freezing cold of the air-conditioned unit. There is a table, 3 cots, it is very similar to a sleeping car in a train.
There are not enough shelves and hangers for the clothes. However, there is a laundry, and even an ironing table.
The apotheosis of luxury living on this military base is the sauna bath. (Which is a traditional “Finnish” style bath with the heated wooden slats.)
“We can serve 10 people an hour,” the Bath-Master proudly told the reporters.
Alongside the men’s sauna is one for the women. The correspondents spotted the little branches (“veniki”) which people used to slap themselves with, when in the bath. “Were these brought from Moscow?” they ask. The Bath-Master laughs. “No, I made them here. I just broke off (some twigs) from over that fence there.”
Next the correspondents were taken to see the “Holy of Holies” – the air strip. The reason why they are all there.
On the strip stand a row of SU-24, SU-25, and SU-34. These birds fly all day and all night. Thanks to which, the Syrian army is finally able to plan its counter-offensive (against ISIL).