When interviewed by representatives of TV stations broadcasting in Arab countries, Vladimir Putin gave an opinion on when and upon what condition Russian troops would leave Syria.
“All the forces deployed illegitimately inside any sovereign state – in this case Syria – must leave. This is true for everyone. If Syria’s new legitimate government chooses to say that they have no more need for Russia’s military presence, this will be just as true for Russia,” he said.
Since the autumn of 2015, the Russian armed forces have been involved in the civil war in Syria siding with the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Russia’s air forces dropped bombs not only on the positions of the Islamic State, but also on those of anti-Assad militants.
“We came to Syria to support the legitimate government, and I would like to emphasise the word ‘legitimate.’ It does not mean that they do not have internal problems; I am ready to talk about it in detail later. It does not mean that the current leadership is not responsible for what is going on there. They are, but it does not mean that we were to allow terrorist organisations to capture Syria and to establish a terrorist pseudo-state there,” Putin stressed.
The Russian leadership has repeatedly announced the troop pullout, but the military still remain in Syria. At the same time, NATO member state troops have started to be withdrawn from the country.
According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, about 40 soldiers were killed at the war in Syria. However, the MoD has never confirmed the casualties of the private military company Wagner. The grouping of Russian mercenaries led by Commander Dmitry Utkin is supposedly financed by Evgeny Prigozhin whose nickname is ‘Putin’s Chef’. It is to be recalled that Wagner fought for separatists in Donbas before their coming to Syria earlier.