MOSCOW – Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that after two years of operations in Syria, the world had seen that his country had a modern military.
Speaking at a state award ceremony for people who had fought in Syria, Putin said the military had changed drastically during the Syrian operations, where Russian forces have been providing the government of beleaguered President Bashar al-Assad with military support since September 2015.
“It changed because people understood how our military equipment works, how our management, logistics support agencies can work, how modern our Armed Forces have become,” he said, adding that “the whole world saw this.”
According to him, some 48,000 Russian troops took part in the operations.
Putin said Hmeimym Airbase and a port in Tartus would remain open in the Arab country, meaning Russia would have a permanent military presence there.
“These are important factors for defending national interests and ensuring Russian security,” he said.
The Russian president thanked representatives from the military industry who were present at the ceremony, saying that it was thanks to their fine-tuning of Russia’s weaponry that it had become a truly fearsome force.
General Sergey Surovikin, commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces, was awarded the title of Hero of the Russian Federation, the highest honorary title in the country.
He said that while carrying out missions in Syria, at no point had Russian troops forgotten that they were defending Russia and that they had an obligation to carry out all operations successfully.
This obligation was due not only to military duty, but also to their responsibility to destroy the terrorist threat, as Russian troops had been fighting against the Islamic State terror organization, as well as rebel groups considered by Moscow and Damascus to be terrorists.