President Vladimir Putin decided to start pulling out Russia’s military forces from Syria after completing its primary objectives in the war-torn country.
The Russian military forces supported the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in fighting local opposition groups as well at the Islamic State. The opposition wants to remove Assad from power while the Islamic State wants to control the country.
Russia already informed Syrian President Assad regarding the withdrawal, according to President Putin’s spokesman Dimitry Peskov. The Russian President made the decision on the day of the resumption of the UN-brokered peace talks between the opposing parties in Syria.
Russia created conditions for peace process in Syria
President Putin ordered the withdrawal of Russian military forces in Syria during a meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Kremlin. He told his ministers, “I believe that the task put before the defense ministry and Russian armed forces has, on the whole, been fulfilled.”
President Putin added that the Russian military together Syrian armed forces and patriotic forces achieved a “fundamental turnaround in the fight against international terrorism and had taken the initiative in almost all respects.”
Furthermore, the Russian President said, “The effective work of our military created the conditions for the beginning of the peace process. I hope today’s decision will be a good signal to all the conflicting sides.”
“I hope this will significantly increase the level of confidence of all participants of the settlement process in Syria and will contribute to the solution of the Syrian issue through peaceful means,” said President Putin.
Russia will maintain the operations of its Hmeymin air base in Latakia and naval facility in Tartous. President Putin did not set a deadline for the completion of the pullout.
Russia is sending a message that it can bring solutions to Syria
Tim Ash, head of emerging-market strategy at Nomura in London told Bloomberg that President Putin is “just sending a message that he is in control of Syria, and he can force Assad to the negotiating table” anytime he wants.
Ash also believed that President Putin is also trying to “reinforce on the West that Russian can bring lots of solutions in Syria.” He described the Russian President’s action as a “negotiating ploy with the West.”
The conflict in Syria killed more than 270,000 people and almost 50% of the Syrian people fled and sought refuge in other countries. Mohammad Alloush, the chief negotiator of the opposition recently stated that the civil war in Syria would only end if Assad is no longer in power.
“We believe that the transitional period should start with the fall, or death, of Bashar al-Assad. It cannot start with the presence of the regime, or the head of this regime still in power,” said Alloush.