Russia helped create conditions for peace process in Syria

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
The first group of Russian aircraft from the Hmeimim Airbase departs for home bases in Russia. ©
In full compliance with international law and at the request of the legitimate Government of Syria, Russia launched a military operation in the country on 30 September 2015.

From the very start we were very clear about its goal: support for the Syrian army in its fight against terrorist groups. Plainly, the Syrian army was our “boots on the ground”. We also had to deal with terrorists who came from Russia. There was no intention to get involved in an internal Syrian conflict. Russia also made it clear that once a peace process was launched we would withdraw our forces.

The ceasefire agreement co-sponsored by Russia and the US significantly reduced the scope of work for our air force. The number of missions decreased by two thirds from 60–80 to 20–30 a day. In general, our intense bombing operations turned the situation around. Our military made the terrorist tumor contract destroyed the bandits’ hiding places, munitions dumps and command centers, disrupted oil smuggling operations that was and is the terrorists’ main source of funding. A huge amount of work was done to strengthen Syria’s armed forces, which are now capable of not only holding back the terrorists, but also of conducting offensive operations against them.

The decision to withdraw a greater part of our expeditionary force was taken with a view to provide impetus to the peace process, which allows displaced Syrians to return to their homes and start reconstructing the country. It is now up to them to decide their future, to build on the progress to be achieved in Geneva.

Meanwhile, as stated by Russia and the US, the fight against terrorists recognized as such by the UN will continue. Any group that violates the ceasefire will face the consequences. In view of the unconstructive behavior by our partners, perhaps not willing to be seen to be cooperating with our military, Russia reserves the right to enforce the ceasefire unilaterally.

We will keep our two bases in Syria operational, their safety secured from land, sea and air. They have assets to ensure that nobody intervenes in Syria in support of the terrorists facing imminent defeat.

The terrorist acts in Paris and now Brussels prove wrong the strategy of dealing with the ISIS threat as a long term challenge only. The terrorists were provided with space and time to expand their operations into Europe, including through greater involvement of recruits from among EU citizens. We have no more time to waste.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.