Agreement on Russian air group deployment in Syria ratified
Russian President Vladimir Putin ratified an intergovernmental agreement on the deployment of the Russian Armed Forces' air group in Syria, the Kremlin press service said.
"The Russian air force group will be deployed at the request of the Syrian side at the Hmeimim airfield in the Latakia province indefinitely and on a pro bono basis." Lenta.ru cited the statement as saying.
The grouping will be used by the commander’s decision agreed with Syrian authorities. The composition of the air grouping will be determined by Russia.
The agreement is signed for an indefinite period and comes into effect from the date it is signed.
The deputy head of the Council of the Russian Diplomats Association, Andrey Baklanov, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, explained that there is nothing surprising in such a late ratification of the Russian-Syrian agreement, which was signed in August 2015.
"It is quite natural, because a year ago, there was talk about emergency assistance to the Syrian government and people due to the threat of attack by militant forces. And back than many issues were resolved on a temporary basis," he said.
Today, according to the expert, despite the fact that there is almost no immediate danger of seizure of the capital and a change of regime, the overall situation in the country and in the region remains very difficult. "In general, the military-political situation in the Middle East is not satisfactory from Russia's point of view, which would like to see a peaceful environment," Baklanov noted.
"In this regard, we have to take measures to meet Russia's interests in the region. This also applies to the permanent status of Russian air forces, which assist Syria. Our presence there is a stabilizing element and a warning to certain forces, which might try to change the ratio in their favor," the diplomat stressed.
He said that a key premise for Russia's activities in Syria remains the same: as historical experience shows, such dangerous things should be hit on the distant approaches.
Speaking on the prospects for cooperation with the US in the fight against terrorism, the expert recalled that Washington proclaims the same goal as Moscow - the fight against international terrorism. "And if they position this goal consistently, it is their problem. But we still believe that in the US foreign policy interests include a real struggle against this evil," the diplomat explained.
A military observer of the TASS news agency, retired Colonel Viktor Litovkin noted that at the beginning, when the Russian aircraft was deployed at the Hmeymim airbase, no one planned to stay there indefinitely. "We assumed that it would take a certain time to defeat ISIL, but now it is clear that we will not be able to defeat the terrorists immediately, therefore, it is a long term issue," the expert said.
In addition, he drew attention to the fact that Russia's aim there is not only fighting ISIL, but also controlling the Mediterranean, at least its eastern sector. "There are ships of the US Sixth Fleet, armed with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System and Tomahawk cruise missiles, which enter the Black Sea and try to threaten our strategic missile forces, stationed in the Tver, Kaluga, Saratov and Ivanovo regions," Victor Litovkin noted.
He stressed that Russia needs to control these ships, the US actions. "For this purpose we need the Hmeymim base. It is possible that we will also need the base in Tartus, which will be created," the military expert pointed out.
He also expressed opinion that the presence of Russian aircraft at the Hmeymim base will not affect the relations between Russia and the United States. "The US has understood that Russia came to Syria not for 1-2 days a long time ago, and it is clear for Russia as well. The Americans will continue their attempts to push Russia out of Syria. Washington would resort to various methods, including information and propaganda ones," Viktor Litovkin concluded.