Take a good look at the map below. It shows Russia’s existing and planned Navy Bases as of 2008, mapped together with wars and border conflicts in 2015. In 2008 Putin announced plans for navy bases in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Venezuela. The first three had to be aborted due to the Arab Spring. Civil war erupted in Syria, and later in Libya and Yemen as well. Russia entered into an agreement with Iran to use one of their navy bases instead. Iran is supposedly helping the Houthi rebels in Yemen. A connection? And is there a similar link with the anti-US rebels in Libya? The other week top level Russian militaries visited Venezuela, a country dependent on Russian military expertise for its defense. In late May the regime publicly claimed sea areas off the disputed part of Guyana, and shortly after Putin appeared with dictator Maduro saying that Russia is defending Venezuela in case of an attack. The final hot spot on the map are some Japanese islands that Russia has occupied since WWII.
Apart from this Russian navy plan, China is also building up a global navy, with its own territorial disputes in the East China Sea and South China Sea. They have already completely covered 8 km2 of coral reefs with sand in order to create military bases in what the Philippines consider their waters, in the Spratly Islands. As was the case in the past millennia, at stake is the control over the trade routes on the seas.