Russia in Syria ‘Indefinitely’: What It is All About


 Everyday life of the Russian air group at the Hmeymim airfield in Syria

   This week Russian President Putin ratified an agreement with the Syrian government that allows Russia to use the Hmeymim air base in Syria indefinitely. Sputnik delves into the details of the Russian facility in Syria’s Latakia province.

   The agreement, which was signed between Moscow and Damascus on August 26, 2015, had been previously approved by both chambers of Russia’s parliament.

   The document regulates the terms of deployment of Russia’s air group in Syria

Among other points, it notes that the Russian air group is stationed at the Hmeymim airfield in the Latakia province free of charge at the request of Syria.

   Under the agreement, Russian military personnel and their family members are granted immunity identical to that provided by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

   The document stipulates that the deployment of Russia’s air group on the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic “answers the purpose of maintaining peace and stability in the region, is of defensive character and is not levelled against other states.”

   The structure of the air group is defined by Russia upon agreement with Syria. The group acts in accordance with the plans put forward and agreed upon by both sides. Russia has the right to bring onto Syrian territory armament, ammunition, equipment and materials necessary for completion of the tasks of the air group and for provision of security and life-sustaining activities of the military personnel.

   They are not subjected to any duties, fees or levies.

   The military personnel of Russia’s air group has the right to cross the Syrian border without encumbrance with the documents valid for travel outside Russia and is not subjected to security checks by Syrian border guards or customs officers.

   The air group officers are relieved of any direct or indirect taxes.

   September 30, 2016 marked one year since Russia launched its aerial campaign in Syria under the official request of the Syrian government.

   According to Viktor Murakhovsky, editor-in-chief of Arsenal of the Motherland journal, since then the Russian air group has conducted about 16,000 sorties and over 54,000 air strikes on the positions of the rebel groups operating on the Syrian territory: their command centers, workshops which manufactured self-made explosives and ammunition, military hardware.

   Russian Aerospace Forces have eliminated about 5,000 terrorists, 2,700 of whom were either of Russian or CIS origin, the expert told RT news channel.

   The Russian air group has destroyed 125 tanks and several thousand trucks mounted with weapons, 200 objects of illegal oil infrastructure and has delivered over 1.5 tonnes of humanitarian aid.

   “Back in summer of 2015, some western experts predicted that President Assad’s government could hold-out for no longer than 5-6 months. However the involvement of Russia’s Airspace Forces and their high-intensive airstrikes have profoundly changed the situation in Syria. And speculation on the soon collapse of Damascus has become quiet,” Murakhovsky said. Ministry of defence of the Russian FederationTupolev Tu-22 M3 strategic bombers hit terrorists in Syria

   “The presence of the Russian air group on the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic answers in full the purposes of maintaining peace in the region,” member of Russia’s Federation Council’s (upper chamber of the Russian parliament) Committee on Defense and Security Olga Kovitidi told RT.

   “The ratification of the agreement on the indefinite presence of the Russian air group at the Hmeymim base will become a basis for its systematic and planned operations within the military campaign for the benefit of friendly Syria,” she said.

   Kovitidi also noted that the signed agreement establishes international legal norms which regulate the number of personnel and the terms of deployment and operation of the Russian air group.

   Such agreements are the only legal instrument in the international practice for the use of foreign military bases. The implementation of this agreement will be Russia’s practical contribution into the efforts of the international community to stabilize the situation in Syria and to fight against international terrorism, she stated.

   Meanwhile Viktor Murakhovsky revealed that at the moment there are 16 Russian combat aircraft deployed at the Hmeymim air base: 12 Su-24M supersonic, all-weather attack aircraft and 4 Su-34 advanced fighter-bombers.

   “On average, they perform 40-50 sorties per day, which is relatively inexpensive for the Russian budget,” he told RT.

“In comparison, Russia’s Airspace Forces have over 1,500 combat aircraft which spend about 2 million tonnes of fuel per year, not including the operation in Syrian. Thus the daily operations of 15-20 aircraft in Syria are insignificant,” the expert said.

   He also noted that President Putin has made it clear that there were no additional means allocated from the country’s budget for this aerial campaign and that it keeps within the expenditures allocated by Russia’s Defense Ministry to the operative and combat training.

The expert also noted that there are over 4,000 Russian servicemen currently on station at the Hmeymim base. In addition to the aircraft already mentioned, there are also Tu-22, Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic strike bombers operating in Syria.

Putin Ratifies Agreement on Russian Air Group Deployment in Syria


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   Russian President Vladimir Putin ratified an intergovernmental agreement on the deployment of the Russian Armed Forces’ air group in Syria, the Kremlin said on Friday.

   MOSCOW     Both houses of Russian parliament had approved the August 26, 2015, agreement this month. The agreement signed in Damascus regulates the terms of deployment of Russia’s air group in Syria.

   “The federal law ratifies the agreement between Russia and the Syrian Arab Republic on the deployment of the Russian Armed Forces aviation group on the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic,” the Kremlin’s press service said.

   It notes that the Russian air group is stationed at the Hmeymim airfield in the Latakia province free of charge at the request of Syria.

   Under the agreement, Russian military personnel will gain immunity identical to that provided by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Russian troops will also not be subject to border checks when entering Syria.

   Russia began its counterterrorist air campaign in Syria on September 30, 2015, at the request of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Aerospace Force’s mission in Syria more effective than American – press secretary

Dmitry Peskov also said that the Russian and French military have been discussing already an action plan for Syria

Russia’s presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov

Russia’s presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov

© Anna Isakova/press-service of the State Duma of the Russian Federation/TASS

VLADIVOSTOK, November 28. /TASS/. The mission of the Russian Aerospace Force in Syria is more effective in quality than the U.S. mission, Russia’s presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with the Vesti V Subbotu (News on Saturday) television programme.

“The territory, controlled by terrorists is shrinking (over the time of the Russian mission),” he said. “This proves the mission is qualitatively different. It is more effective. Those are not conclusions of political analysts, but the reality, which may be announced.”

He called an “undeniable fact” result of the U.S.-led coalition’s actions, which had been in Iraq and in Syria for 15 months.

“Unfortunately, that mission, which lasted for over a year, has resulted in bigger territories controlled by IS (Islamic State),” he said. “It is for the first time now, thanks to the mission of the Russian Aerospace Force, which is not that long yet, the tendency has changed radically”.

Russian, French military discuss action plan in Syria

The Russian and French military have been discussing already an action plan for Syria, though it is too early yet to announce the coalition is ready to cooperate, said Russia’s presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov.

The Russian side keeps the door open for any cooperation acceptable for the U.S.-led coalition, he said, adding “as yet, we cannot see, say, mutual readiness.”

He continued saying some countries had chosen to leave now the “pressing position” demanding an immediate resignation of Bashar Assad.

“Now that most Syrian territory is controlled by IS, Nusra and other terrorist organisations, it seems unrealistic to organise whatever elections,” the press secretary said. “Nor realistic are talks about a political settlement. The only force on the ground, which is fighting terrorism, is the Syrian Armed Forces”.

Russia is adamant about territory integrity of Middle East countries

Russia is for territory and political integrity of the Middle East countries, presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told.

“You know, it is a very sensitive region, and thus inarguable provision is to remain – the territory and political integrity of all the countries in the region: both Syria, and Turkey, and Iraq,” he said. “Otherwise, the consequences may be catastrophic for the region, which actually neighbours our borders.”

The anchorman said about various political and ethnic groups acting in the region, including, for example, the Kurdish militia.

“The Kurdish militia, well, in fact they are fighting most effectively both in northern Iraq, and fighting effectively the Islamic State (a terrorist group outlawed in Russia),” Peskov said. “They are a more realistic force in fighting IS than the ephemeral Free Syrian Army.”

The presidential press secretary preferred to leave unanswered a question from the anchorman whether Russia should intensify contacts with the Kurds.

“Here, I have said everything I could,” Peskov replied.

What is Russia’s S-400 Air Defense System Set to Do in Syria?

Russia deploys S-400 air defence missile system in Syria

Moscow has deployed its most advanced S-400 air defense system, said to have no equals globally, to guard the skies over Syria after a Turkish F-16 fighter shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber over Syrian territory on Tuesday.

The S-400 Triumf (NATO codename SA-21 Growler) is an anti-aircraft and anti-missile system, which is capable of intercepting all types of modern air weaponry, including fifth-generation warplanes, as well as ballistic and cruise missiles at a maximum range of nearly 250 miles. It has a tracking range of over 370 miles.The system uses three types of long- and medium-range missiles and can simultaneously engage as many as 36 targets.

In addition, the S-400 is the only missile complex in the world capable of hitting targets located beyond the horizon, defense expert Konstantin Sivkov told Radio Sputnik. The system is also well protected against electronic warfare.

The Moskva guided missile cruiser, the flagship of Russia's Black Sea Fleet
The Moskva guided missile cruiser, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet

In short, the S-400 is the best defensive system Russia has in its arsenal.

But just in case, the Triumf will also be assisted by the S-300F Fort (SA-N-6 Grumble) air defense system outfitted on the Moskva guided missile cruiser.

“The S-300 system onboard Moskva is also an extremely capable system that is similar to the S-400, but not quite as potent. One of the missile types supported by the Rif-M system … can engage targets out to 95 miles at altitudes up to 90,000ft. The system can engage half-a-dozen targets with up to twelve missiles simultaneously,” Dave Majumdar observed in an article for the National Interest.

On Tuesday, a Turkish F-16 shot down a Su-24, claiming that the aircraft had violated its airspace. Russian officials and the Su-24 pilot, who survived the crash, insist that the plane did not cross into Turkey. The crew, according to the pilot, did not receive any warning prior to the attack.The Su-24 was involved in Russia’s counterterrorism efforts in Syria aimed at assisting Damascus in its fight against ISIL and other extremist groups trying to overthrow Bashar al-Assad.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused to apologize for the incident, which Russian President Vladimir Putin described as a “stab in the back” committed by “accomplices of terrorists.” Moreover, Erdogan warned Russia against using the S-400 to shoot down Turkish fighter jets if they violate Syrian airspace since, in his opinion, it would qualify as “aggression.”


S-400 antiaircraft missile system to defend Russia’s air group in Syria


©  Russian Defense Ministry’s Press and Information Department/TASS

MOSCOW, November 27. /TASS/. The S-400 (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) air defense missile systems that Russia has moved to its airbase near Latakia in Syria after Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber will help keep most of Syrian airspace under control and will be a sword of Damocles over the heads of potential aggressors, experts say.

Any incidental encounters with the aircraft of the US-led coalition in Syria are hardly possible thanks to modern military hardware, the experts say.

Along with the Fort air defense missile systems aboard the missile cruiser Moskva already in Syrian waters, the S-400 systems will ensure the safety of the Russian air group’s flights and will destroy any targets posing a threat to it. Also, Russian aircraft and helicopters on a combat mission will be accompanied by fighter jets for combat cover and also by aerial electronic warfare systems.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said he was surprised over the US reaction.

“We were confident until Tuesday that our planes destroying Islamic State facilities were guaranteed against attacks from the so-called US-led anti-IS coalition,” he said.

“Now all the northern provinces in Syria bordering on Turkey, as well as the north-eastern provinces bordering on Iraq are tracked by our [S-400] system and targets can be hit at a depth of up to 300 km,” military expert and editor-in-chief of the Arsenal of the Fatherland journal Viktor Murakhovsky told TASS.

“Therefore, as it turns out, with the deployment of the S-400 at the Khmeimim airbase, the territory of Turkey is visible within the distance of about 350-400 km while fire can be delivered at a distance of about 200-250 km in depth,” the military expert said.

As for the US indignation, the expert noted that the United States had signed a memorandum with Russia on preventing air incidents.

“The S-400 will not create big problems for the US-led coalition,” Deputy Director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Maxim Shepovalenko told TASS. “All the rest depends on them. If they behave badly and obstruct our aircraft, they will be let known about that. But we’ll hardly enter into direct confrontation with them.”

In principle, no one is guaranteed against incidents, he added. “But modern identification and detection systems exclude such things. There can be no incidental occurrences there. The statements that the Turks did not know that this was the Russian plane and confused it with a Syrian aircraft is child’s talk and does not stand up to criticism,” the military expert said.

The electronic warfare system will now be used in the first place, the expert said. “Until now, we refrained from this because we hoped for understanding from the so-called partners,” he noted.

‘As for electronic warfare and air defense systems, it can be said that we’re among the best in the world,” the military expert said.

Regional Security Sector Head at the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies Igor Nikolaichuk believes that the S-400 will play the role of a deterrence factor as the newest system of Russia’s strategic echelon: “Don’t step in and don’t try to shoot down our planes.”

“The Americans’ fears are completely unfounded and are only an element of political pressure,” the expert told TASS.

“Modern technical capabilities and specialists’ qualification give a possibility actually to exclude an incidental downing of planes,” the military expert said.

Russia Confirms S-400 Air Defense System Put on Combat Duty in Syria

Anti-aircraft missile system S-400 during combat duty to ensure the safety of the Russian air group in Syria


An advanced S-400 Triumf air defense system on Thursday was delivered and deployed on combat duty at the Hmeymim airbase near the Syrian port city of Latakia, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

   Earlier in the day, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported that Russia has delivered its S-400 missile defense system to its air base near Syria’s Latakia.


“Today, in accordance with a decision by the Supreme Commander of the Russian Armed Forces, an S-400 air defense system was promptly delivered and deployed on combat duty at the Hmeymim air base in Syria,” ministry’s spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the Defense Ministry’s request to deploy the S-400 Triumf (SA-21 Growler) at the airbase in order to protect Russia’s Aerospace Forces operating in Syria.The decision was made after Turkish fighter jets had shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber, which had been taking part in Russia’s anti-terror campaign in Syria.

Russian President Vladimir Putin described the incident as a “stab in the back, carried out against us by accomplices of terrorists.”