The Russian-built Yakhont anti-ship missile systems could protect a Russian naval supply and maintenance site near Syria’s Mediterranean port of Tartus, a Russian arms trade expert has said.

“One of the purposes of the deployment of Bastion missile systems in Syria is to ensure the protection of the Russian naval site in Tartus,” Moscow-based think tank head Igor Korotchenko said.

The Yakhont missile has a range of 300km with a capacity to carry a 200kg warhead, and it is believed that none of the world’s existing warships can prevent a Yakhont missile attack, according to RIA Novosti.

The naval maintenance site is the only Russian military foothold in the Mediterranean.

Russia has plans to modernise the facility to accommodate large warships, missile cruisers and aircraft carriers after 2012.