Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked the Defense Ministry to start the pullout of the Russian military group from Syria to permanent locations.
“You are coming home with a victory, to your relatives, parents, wives, children and friends. Your Motherland is waiting for you, my friends. Have a safe trip home and thank you for your service,” state-run news agency TASS quotes Putin.
“Over slightly more than two years, the Russian Armed Forces have routed together with the Syrian army the most combat-capable grouping of international terrorists,” Putin told Russian servicemen at the Hmeymim airbase in Syria.
During November’s meeting with Bashar al-Assad, Putin announced the end of the Russian military operation in the near future. At the same time, he admitted that there was a ‘long way to go before the sweep victory over terrorism’. A day later, the Russian leader stated that 98% of the Syrian territory was under control of the governmental troops.
On November 30, Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said that preparations for the pullout of Russian military group from Syria started.
However, on December 7, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stressed that only Russia’s Supreme Commander-in-Chief, President Vladimir Putin would make a decision on ending the Russian air task force’s operation in Syria.
It seems that the decision has been voiced today, during Putin’s first visit to Syria.
Russia is really pulling out its troops, military expert Alyaksandr Alesin told Belsat. According to him, they will remove 2/3 of front air power, because they do not need so many bombers there.
“What for should Russia keep them there? They will be redeployed: the situation in the Ukraine is not entirely clear, problems may arise near Afghanistan and Caucasus. They will remove bombers but leave helicopters and MiG25 attack aircraft which are needed to fight against small armed groups,” he said.
In his opinion, there will be cuts to the personnel as well: “Maintaining deliveries by air and sea is very expensive. There is no point.”
Alesin expected the number of marines and special forces guarding the base in Tartus and Hmeymim would be reduced. At the same time, military police and mine clearance specialists would remain until al-Assad asked them to leave, the expert added.