Sergey Shoigu: Russian aerospace forces accomplished tasks in Syria

Russian aerospace forces have accomplished the task set by the Russian President, the Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said at a meeting with top Defense Ministry officials on Tuesday.

"We have coped with the main task that the supreme commander-in-chief had set to us last year. However hard it might have been for us, however greatly we might need support from the international coalition, which in fact has not only achieved nothing but even turned things for the worse, to our deep regret we saw no support from it. And that required us to brace all of our resources and capabilities, to dispatch a large group to Syria, including an aircraft carrier-led group and extra aerospace resources and military police as well," he said.

Russian warplanes have conducted 19,160 sorties since the start of the Syria operation, destroying 174 militants’ makeshift oil refineries and depriving them of the basic source of revenues, Chief of Russia’s General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov said, adding that it liberated 12,360 square kilometers of Syria’s territory.

Shoigu also said that Pentagon chief Ashton Carter picked the wrong country when he said that Russia’s contribution to the struggle against terrorism in Syria was zero.

"Yesterday I listened to a speech by one of my foreign counterparts in a faraway country. He said that Russia’s contribution to the struggle against terrorism in Syria and in the region was equal to zero. I might have subscribed to what he said in a sense only if a) that counterpart of mine had not picked the wrong country; and b) had been more accurate in his comments," TASS cited him as saying.

Earlier, Carter claimed that Russia’s contribution to the struggle against terrorism in Syria was equal to naught. He argued that Russia had done "virtually zero" to fight against terrorism and that the United States had to do that all alone.

According to the President of the National Strategy Institute, Mikhail Remizov, in the first place, over the past year Russian air forces were able to force the Syrian opposition to agree for a return to peace talks to resolve the crisis in Syria. "Aleppo's liberation is a major military success, used by Moscow to force the opposition to join negotiations," he noted.

At the same time, Russia has no plans to finish the war in Syria with its own hands. "As I understand it, Moscow is not going to make such steps, because it would mean a serious bogging in the Syrian war. Now there is a great desire to use military successes of the last year in order to strengthen the negotiating position of Russia, Iran and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as this enhanced negotiating position will enable to conclude a steady agreement with some opposition forces and regional powers standing behind them," Mikhail Remizov explained.

Speaking about the exchange of statements on the results of the actions of Russia and the international coalition in Syria, the expert stressed that the increased criticism from the West is due to Western leaders' dissatisfaction with the victory of Damascus in Aleppo, supported by Moscow. "These sharp accusations are symptoms of irritation, which were caused by the capture of Aleppo in Washington, London and Paris. I think that the new administration of US President has a chance to come to the negotiating process with the updated concept. The chances of cooperation with the West to counter the militants should not be overestimated, but they remain," the President of the National Strategy Institute concluded.

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