Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his nation to begin the withdrawal of its intervention forces from Syria, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying Putin believed the troops had largely achieved their objectives since arriving in autumn.
Russian troops at the Tartus Naval Base, Russia’s only Mediterranean base, and forces at the Hemeimeem airbase in Latakia will not be effected by the move, which Putin expects to give a boost to the peace talks in Geneva.
Russian officials aimed to save the Assad government, at the time suffering mounting losses, with their intervention, and appear to have succeeded, at least for now, as the government regained considerable territory. They also wanted to back the rebels away from the Tartus base on the coast.
Russia’s ultimate goal, however, was not an outright military victory for Assad in the civil war, but a brokered settlement which would resolve the rebellion with constitutional reform, while still maintaining Syria as an historic Russian ally. While there is much work to be done in the peace talks toward actually ending the war, Russia seems to be pushing Assad to the negotiating table by insisting that they’re not going to keep backing offensives.