The chief of the Russian navy says his country is looking to establish a permanent naval base on the Mediterranean Sea.

Admiral Vladimir Masorin says the Mediterranean has the highest "strategic importance" for his country's Black Sea fleet.  He says a "permanent presence" of the Russian navy must be restored in the region. 

Masorin spoke Friday at the existing base of the Black Sea fleet in the Ukrainian port city of Sevastopol.

Earlier this year, Russian officials denied reports they were looking to build a military base in the Syrian port of Tartus.  Russia uses that port as a naval maintenance site.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.