Russia to stay in Syria ‘as long as beneficial’
President Vladimir Putin said on June 7 that Russian forces would remain in Syria as long as it was in Moscow’s interests, despite earlier announcing Russia’s mission in the war-torn country was largely completed.
"They will stay there as long as it is beneficial to Russia and to ensure our international obligations. We are not planning to withdraw yet,” he said.
The president said the continued presence of Russian troops in the country would provide “invaluable experience” in the testing of new Russian weapons.
But he added that large-scale hostilities had ceased and a peaceful settlement was on the agenda.
In December last year, Putin made a surprise visit to Russia’s Hmeimim airbase in Latakia, Syria where he ordered a partial pullout of the country’s troops, saying their mission there was mainly completed.
In March this year, the defense ministry said a total of 2,954 Russian troops in Syria had voted in presidential polls, giving an idea of current numbers.