Putin thanks Su-30 jet pilots for ‘covering’ his plane during Syria visit (VIDEO)
Vladimir Putin has told reporters at his annual Q&A session how security for his recent visit to Syria was provided. Russian fighter jet pilots risked their lives, the president said, revealing how he watched their maneuvers from the window of his plane.
"The pilots, those guys, I watched them. They were not just flying nearby – during landing, they descended to be flying below our plane," Putin said. He explained that the maneuver was a dangerous one for the pilots of the fighter jets, but they chose to provide cover for the presidential plane.
"I am thankful to them and want them to hear and know that," Putin said, adding: "Although, I'm not sure there was a necessity" for such extra security maneuvers. The president also thanked the Russian military on the ground who safeguarded his plane – "which might be a target for SAMs [surface-to-air-missiles], especially during take-off and landing."
On Monday, Putin arrived in Syria without any advance notice. Having visited Khmeimim Airbase in Latakia province, the Russian president ordered the withdrawal of Russian troops from the country.