'Few hours' to rebuild Russian military in Syria: Putin
President Putin said that if need be Russia can rebuild its forces within "a few hours" in Syria. He said that he'd ordered a partial retreat of Russian warplanes from Syria, leaving some Russian military in Syria to assist the Syrian army's efforts against the Islamic State. His statement emphasized Russia's intention to maintain a strong military presence despite the withdrawal.
Russia joins Syrian civil war
On 30 September, Russia's parliament approved a request by President Vladimir Putin to launch air strikes in Syria. Putin stated that the air strikes would target all terror organizations within Syria. Russia seeks to keep Syrian President Bashar Assad in power. Russia also seeks to protect its naval base at Tartous, which serves as Russia's sole Mediterranean base for its Black Sea fleet.
Assad is the key to Syria: Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin has maintained that any solution to the conflict in Syria cannot involve removing Assad from power as he is the only leader with a consolidated support base in the country.
NATO and the US condemn Russian strikes
The US and NATO severely criticized Russia's decision to conduct air strikes on behalf of President Assad. Russian strikes, which initially included only bombing ISIS targets, expanded to cover all non-government groups operating in the country. This severely affected US aided "moderate" terror groups which were fighting both Assad as well the ISIS terrorists. Russian strikes helped the Syrian government regain lost ground.
Putin orders troop withdrawal from Syria
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his military to start withdrawing the "main part" of its forces in Syria. He said the Russian intervention had largely achieved its objectives. The comments come amid fresh peace talks in Geneva aimed at resolving the five-year Syrian conflict. An official Russian statement said that the pullout was "in accordance with the situation on the ground".
What has Russia accomplished through the Syrian war?
Russia's air force conducted over 9000 sorties across Syria hitting over 35000 targets. Russian air raids also destroyed or partially destroyed 209 oil production and transfer facilities that were being used by ISIS to smuggle oil. After Russian air raids began, the Syrian government managed to regain control of over 400 settlements. The Syrian government also regained over 10,000 sq. km of lost territory.
Why did Russia decide to pull out?
Experts assess that Russia has largely achieved its objectives and set up the Syrian government in a position of strength, to regain control of the country. However, others argue that the falling global crude prices have severely impeded Russia's economy and driven up the costs of war. The international sanctions against Russia over Crimea, coupled with falling crude prices spells disaster for Russia's economy.
Russian defence systems to stay
Russia's air-defence systems and surface to air missiles will remain in Syria. The total number of Russian troops in Syria was never revealed, so the quantum of the current withdrawal cannot be assessed immediately.