Putin: Our presence in Syria is temporary as long as it benefits Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin during a TV interview - December 14, 2023 (Russia Today)

Russian President Vladimir Putin during a TV interview - December 14, 2023 (Russia Today)


Russian President Vladimir Putin said that his country’s presence in Syria is temporary and will continue as long as it is beneficial for Russia.

During a televised interview on December 14, 2023, reported by Russian media outlets, Putin stated that Russian military forces are in Syria to secure Russia’s interests in this vital region of the world, which is very close to Russia.

The Russian President indicated that his country does not currently plan to withdraw these military units from Syria, according to the Russian TASS news agency.

He also mentioned that the Russian deployment sites in Syria are called “points” rather than “bases,” emphasizing that Moscow does not establish long-term structures there.

Putin added that Russia can withdraw all its military personnel from Syria with “sufficient speed” and without any material losses if necessary.

Until the moment of writing this news, Russian media outlets in Arabic have not reported on the interview’s part speaking about the Russian withdrawal from Syria.

Since mid-last year, there have been talks about Moscow’s intention to reduce its forces in Syria, estimated to be more than 60,000 troops, half of whom are officers. This reduction was initially justified by Russia’s focus on military operations in Ukraine in exchange for handing over some points and military centers used by Russia to Iranian forces and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia.

The Russian intervention in Syria has been a radical turning point in the course of field events, as the Syrian regime managed to reclaim large areas on the map since the first Russian airstrike in Syria on September 30, 2015, including through Russian-Turkish agreements and others in which Russia played a pivotal role with Jordan, Israel, and even the United States.

Russia has also overseen direct negotiations between opposition fighters and regime forces in northern, central, and southern Syria, which resulted in some opposition fighters joining the Fifth Corps supported by Russia, surrendering weapons by others, and the expulsion of those who refused to hand over their arms to areas controlled by the opposition in northwestern Syria.

Since the start of Russian military operations in Ukraine, there has been increasing talk about Russia’s withdrawal of its troops from Syria, as well as rumors about Russia withdrawing fighters from Syria to reinforce its combat fronts on the European periphery.

The partial Russian withdrawal from southern Syria has created a vacuum, allowing pro-Iranian militias to penetrate the area, with some of them actively involved in drug smuggling operations facilitated by the Syrian regime to neighboring countries.


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