Moscow is not planning to withdraw its military contingent from Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during the Direct Line session which was broadcast by Russia 24 TV channel.
“They will stay there as long as it is beneficial to Russia, and in fulfillment of our international obligations. We are not planning to withdraw the units yet,” the president said. According to him, Russian troops are carrying out important duties related to ensuring Russia’s security in the region and protecting the economic interests of Moscow.
He also pointed out that this is not just a military contingent in a foreign country, but “two sites where they are stationed – the port of Tartus and the airport at Khmeimim.” According to him, he intentionally did not call them bases. We are not building facilities for long-term plans there so we will be able to promptly withdraw our military personnel, without any material losses, if need be,” Putin said.
Putin gave the order to withdraw the Russian military from Syria on December 11, 2017, while in Khmeimim. By December 22, Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu reported that the president’s order for the withdrawal of troops had been completed, and 36 planes, four helicopters, six Tu-22 bombers, as well as special motorized ground equipment, had been returned to permanent bases.
Some of the servicemen deployed at the Russian military installations in Khmeimim and Tartus remain in Syria. Personnel at the Russian Center for the reconciliation of the warring parties and the military police – charged with controlling the de-escalation zones – also continue their work there.