Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Trump’s decision to remove US troops from Syria. Putin said that the Islamic State had already been dealt a huge blow and the presence of US troops there is in fact illegitimate. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that US troops in Syria will start to pull out declaring victory over Islamic State in the process. However, security analysts urge caution. They note that even though the terrorist organization has lost significant chunks of its territory, it’s still a deadly force that poses many dangers to the US and its allies.
Russia has been in Syria for a couple of years now. The Russian military has been conducting operations in the country targeting opposition fighters. The Kremlin is the most powerful ally for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and its involvement in the conflict has helped turn the tide in favor of the regime. The US and its allies have already denounced the involvement of Russia into the Syrian conflict. However, many analysts see the decision by Trump to remove US troops in the country as an indirect boost for Moscow and its game plan in Syria.
Trump said in a tweet that defeating the Islamic State is in the best interest of many countries, not just the US. But it seems according to him that it’s only the US that has been engaged in a meaningful war effort against the terrorist group. The US president urged others involved in the conflict including Russia, Syria and Iran to start taking over the mantle of fighting ISIS. Russia now remains the only major power in the Syrian conflict. Moscow has been trying to negotiate a peace agreement between the regime and rebel forces. The move has also been backed by Turkey and Iran.
Although Putin welcomed the withdrawal of US trumps from Syria, he was still unsure whether this will happen. The Russian president said that there were still no signs that the over 2,200 US soldiers in the Middle Eastern nation are withdrawing. Putin also said that this is not the first time that the US has pledged to remove troops from foreign lands. He said that Washington has made numerous assertions about removing its soldiers from Afghanistan and yet US soldiers are still there 17 years after the conflict started.
It’s not clear though what the future is for Russian troops. The Kremlin hasn’t yet said when its soldiers will disengage from the Syrian conflict but it’s very likely that this will not happen anytime soon. Although regime forces now control most parts of the country, the Russian firepower is still needed to shore up the Assad government in case of any moves by rebels.
US-Russia relations have been strained quite a bit since Trump took over but both leaders say they maintain a cordial relationship. Trump was scheduled to meet with Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina but the meeting was canceled after Russia seized Ukrainian navy vessels off the coast of Crimea. Trump also withdrew the US from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia and this angered Kremlin a lot.