Two days have passed since President Vladimir Putin’s surprise announcement that Russia would begin withdrawing the main part of its military forces from Syria. Volumes of analyses have already been written on the subject, but there’s one important thing most of them seem to miss.
On Monday, Putin announced that the Russian air operation in Syria had largely achieved its objectives, and that Russia would begin a withdrawal of its main forces from the country.
“With the participation of the Russian military…the Syrian military and patriotic Syrian forces have been able to achieve a fundamental turnaround in the fight against international terrorism, and have taken the initiative in nearly all areas to create the conditions for the start of a peace process,” Putin said, in a working meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
Since then, volumes of analysis have been written, both in Russian and foreign media, on what the move really means.
For his part, Russian television journalist Vladimir Solovyov suggested that what many analysts have missed, and what they should go back and review, is the promise Putin made at the very beginning of Russia’s air campaign.
In an interview with Solovyov recorded on October 10, Putin, asked how long the operation would last, offered an answer which some will find eerily prescient today.
The success of the Syrian army offensive, Putin said, “depends above all on the Syrian army itself and on the Syrian authorities. We cannot commit ourselves to more than is reasonable and have never done so. I said from the start that the active phase of our operations on Syrian soil will be limited in time to the Syrian army’s offensive. Coming back to your earlier question, our task is to stabilize the legitimate government and establish conditions that will make it possible to look for political compromise.”
With a Moscow-Washington brokered ceasefire in place, Syria’s government stabilized and Daesh and Nusra Front terrorists on the run, it becomes instantly clear what the president meant when he said that Russia’s objectives have been “generally fulfilled.”
In other words, Solovyov wryly noted, “it’s not by accident that Putin is called the most unpredictable politician in the world, because he constantly does what he says he is going to do.”