Putin: Russia can ramp back up in Syria “within hours”

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The pan-Arab daily al-Hayat (Life) summarized Russian sources on Thursday’s speech by Russian president Vladimir Putin:

Putin made several points:

1. Russia hopes that the ceasefire and Geneva peace negotiations can now go forward relatively smoothly toward a political settlement in Syria

2. Russia will continue to bomb al-Qaeda (the Nusra Front) and Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) in Syria.

3. Russia will go on supplying the Syrian Arab Army with training, with weapons, and with military advice.

4. Russia is leaving in place powerful anti-aircraft batteries and will blow interlopers out of the air if they enter Syrian air space (a reference to Turkey).

5. If the opposition tries to take advantage of the cessation of hostilities to mount a substantial assault on the Damascus regime, Russia can ramp back up its forces in Syria “within hours.”

A Russian general is quoted in the same piece saying that the bulk of Russian planes and helicopter gunships will be withdrawn from Syria within two or three days at the most.

Related video:

AFP: “Putin warns Russia can ramp up military presence in Syria ”

5 Responses

  1. I have seen it reported that when Putin went on Russian television in October announcing he had sent bombers and weaponry to Syria he said:

    I have two purposes — to bolster the president of Syria Assad’s army, so that it can fight terrorists on the ground, because we, Russia, are not going to send combat soldiers. And secondly, once the Syrian army is stabilized, the political processes of compromise and negotiation can begin.

    He also said: ‘I think it will take three to five months.

    This sounds a perfectly clear unequivocal statement of purpose, but the necessary ceasefire which has been achieved is frangible and requires the cooperation of a lot of interests not renowned for their ability to cooperate so it seems reasonable that he stand poised to return should the untoward, but not unlikely, occur. He seems to me simply to be doing exactly what he said he would do. This, of course, in Western terms is incomprehensible verging on the outrageous.

  2. I know humanitarian aid is not nearly as titillating as watching explosives knock down buildings or rockets fired from jets but wouldn’t it be noble if the negotiators would first address the more mundane work of providing food and water for the starving and displaced refugees in Syria.

    It would be a step in the right direction if Russia, Turkey and the US would exert as much effort and spend as much money providing support for peaceful purposes as they did in tearing the country apart.

    On second thought….who am I kidding…that’s not going to happen.

  3. After just finishing the Jeff Goldberg Atlantic article, I come away with my continued faith in President Obama’s foreign policy instincts. His continued pushback against Samantha Power and John Kerry to intervene militarily in Syria is quite enlightening. Russia needs Syria very much, as they do Ukraine. The US needs neither.

  4. Syria is now partitioned, like Iraq. And like Iraq, it seems like the lesser evil. But while there have been many twists along the way that surprised me, what I predicted as the lesser evil two years ago has come about: the Middle East is now in a Cold War between Saudi Arabia and Iran + Russia, with Berlin Walls replaced by no-man’s lands controlled by maniacs.

    Big surprise #1: the extent to which Russia is the senior partner of the Non-Sunni Bloc, not Iran. That screws up everything for the Saudis and eventually Israel. Russian muscle might get a negotiated settlement in Syria, and that’s a great thing. But the Saud dynasty and Israel have already burned all the bridges behind them over the years so that they could present anything less than total victory as an existential crisis. So now they’re actually in one. They can’t negotiate out of what they’ve become without ceasing to exist. The least bad scenario is still a generation of Cold War that could go hot at any time, while millions on both sides are forced to endure the tyrants they have on the grounds that any revolution will upset the balance of terror. Why are so many anti-war people who deplored America’s involvement in the Cold War so happy about this new one?

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