"We Can Always Come Back": Video Shows Beginning Of Russia's Withdrawal From Syria

Tyler Durden's picture

“Putin is a wily guy. He is showing he’s a statesman. Russia is also sending a message to Assad who has been sounding too confident.”

That’s from Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East studies at the University of Oklahoma, and a frequent commentator on Syria’s five-year conflict.

On Monday, Putin surprised the world by announcing a partial withdrawal of the Russian military presence from Syria. Moscow’s warplanes, backed by Hezbollah ground troops, had effectively encircled Aleppo where rebels were preparing to make what amounted to a last stand just prior to the ceasefire that took effect late last month.

"I think that the tasks set to the defense ministry are generally fulfilled,” Putin said. “That is why I order to begin withdrawal of most of our military group from Syria starting from tomorrow," he added.

Indeed. Despite President Obama’s early contention that Russia would end up in a “quagmire” in Syria, The Kremlin instead showed what happens when a mishmash of loosely aligned rebels squares off against a modern air force.

Five months and thousands upon thousands of sorties later, the rebel cause has become virtually hopeless. It’s much easier to broker a ceasefire when the enemy has been, for all intents and purposes, decimated.

Now, all eyes are on peace talks in Geneva where there is “no Plan B,” according to United Nations special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

De Mistura has called a political transition the “mother of all issues,” with the only alternative being a return to war. But Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem has shown little willingness to negotiate for the future of President Assad while the main Syrian opposition umbrella group, the High Negotiations Committee looks determined to demand the installation of some manner of interim government devoid of Assad and his top brass. 

"[We don't know] who we are negotiating with and what the issues are," Syria's UN representative, Bashar Jaafari complains. All sides probably feel the same way. 

The media is generally pitching Putin's pullback as a move designed to put pressure on Assad to negotiate. That may be partially true, but make no mistake, it also puts pressure on the rebels. They are not, after all, negotiating from a position of strength. Moscow will keep a presence at its airbase in Latakia and it's no longer clear that the anti-Assad elements which are party to the ceasefire are in any kind of shape to mount a counteroffensive. In other words: they probably aren't optimistic about their chances if the war resumes. 

"For Putin, who’s worked with the U.S. to promote diplomacy in Syria even though the two powers backed opposite sides in the war, it’s an opportunity to display peacemaking credentials while preserving the gains Assad’s army made under Russian air cover," Bloomberg writes, in what's probably a reasonably accurate assessment of Moscow's gambit. 

If both sides come to some kind of tenuous agreement, Putin will get to claim that Russia came, saw, and conquered, then brokered a peace settlement - two things no country had been able to do in Syria since the beginning of the war in 2011.

“[It's] a symbolic gesture to sweeten the opposition’s pill, because Assad is clearly not going to go away even if Russia slightly reduces its operations,” Anton Lavrov, an independent Russian military analyst told Bloomberg, adding that “this is clearly linked to the start of negotiations in Geneva [and] it’s a signal to the opposition and an attempt to influence their agreeability.” That underscores our assessment above: the opposition has now seen what can happen when there's a lack of "agreeability," so now Putin will play good cop to his own original bad cop and see if that works to bring the rebels to the table.

Meanwhile, Russian state television has begun to air the first footage of Russian warplanes triumphantly departing from Hmeymim air base in Latakia.

"The personnel are loading equipment, logistics items and stock onto transport aircraft," the Russian Defense Ministry said.

"Aircraft from the Hmeymim base will fly back to the airfields where they are permanently based on Russian territory accompanied by military transport aircraft."

Meanwhile, on the ground, al-Nusra is stirring up trouble in Idlib. As we wrote yesterday evening, the al-Qaeda affiliate overran Division 13 at Marat al-Numan on Sunday, seizing US-made weapons including TOWs and armored vehicles. "On Monday, there were reports of demonstrations against the Nusra Front in territory it holds in Idlib province in north-western Syria," BBC reports. "Photos and videos circulated on social media by an analyst with the Brookings Institution think-tank showed supporters of Western-backed rebels marching in the town of Marat al-Numan [and] there were also reports the protestors had stormed a Nusra Front prison, freeing detainees."

As for ISIS, the SAA is reportedly advancing on Palmyra, the UNESCO heritage site seized by the militants last year in what commentators decried as a major blow to the effort to preserve antiquity.

Russia has indicated it will still support Syria in the fight against "the terrorists." 

And what, you might ask, happens if the SAA and the US-led coalition still can't manage to finish off ISIS and al-Nusra? Here's Viktor Ozerov, head of the defense committee in the upper house of Russia’s parliament with the answer: "We can come back."

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Latina Lover's picture

Putin is playing to the home audience, showing Russia can claim victory while still able to return on a moments notice. Meanwhile the USSA can't win anything, only destroy.


Well done Vlad.

post turtle saver's picture

we don't have to withdraw, we just fucking stay because we don't shoot our wad and run out of cash flow after a few months... face it, Russia is withdrawing because _they don't have the cash flow to sustain the initiative_

Latina Lover's picture

Russia achieved their objectives. The AlQueda/CIA got their heads handed to them, Syria is now stablizied, and the SAA is re armed. Unlike the MIC in Amerika, whose main purpose is to milk the tax payers, the russian MIC has different objectives.

Meanwhile, the USSA is in debt to the tune of 20  Trillion dollars...but  hey, we owe it to ourselves, LOL.

Father Thyme's picture
Father Thyme (not verified) Latina Lover Mar 15, 2016 6:49 AM

Joey, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?

Money Counterfeiter's picture
Money Counterfeiter (not verified) Father Thyme Mar 15, 2016 6:58 AM

Backing off when the initiative is not there.  Something Hitler and Bush should have done.

Putin is looking ahead to Trump.  Will Trump be another Zion sociopath war freak or a guy who hates the creeps as much as he does?

I think Putin thinks he can deal with Trump and maybe have a lot in common in reducing the influence and homogeny of the parasitic money counter fighters.

It does not make sense for Putin to be a target any longer than he needs to be.  Rule #1, move your ass.

y3maxx's picture

..  with Russia pulling out of Syria, Europe gets to return the refugees.

VinceFostersGhost's picture



They learned from Afghanistan like we learned from Vietnam.


You get in.....and then you get the hell out.

toady's picture

Agreed on "they learned from Afghanistan", but we certainly did not learn from Vietnam.  (Unless I missed a /sarc tag....)

The U.S. ALWAYS  overstays it's welcome. Afghanistan became our longest combat operation ever a few years back, with our troops Iraq/Syria close behind. And lets not forget the troops in Japan & Germany, leftovers from WWII Hell, isn't Gitmo a leftover from the Spanish-American war?

Bokkenrijder's picture

"We can always come back."

Sounds like Boris the Blade a.k.a. Boris the sneaky fucking Russian (technically Uzbekistani): "ggeavy ees good, ggheavy ees reliable. Eef eet doesn't work you can always heet ghim weeth eet." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lX0MB7pJtKs

ack's picture

Hmmmm. We learned from Vietnam that wholescale drug-running is very profitable and buys lotta black-ops. 

tsuki's picture

Like we didn't learn from Vietnam.  14 years is a quamire. 

philipat's picture

So Turkey won't get its blackmail Billions?

lydian's picture

Turkey was never going to get billions.  That money would be spent on refugees on a project by project basis and the fund would be administrated by EU. 

Sisyphus's picture

Any chance that rebels getting hold of American Stinger missiles may have forced Russia's hands.


After all, if I am not mistaken, Mujahedeens getting Stinger missiles was one of the reasons that the Soviets were humbled in Afghanistan.


Latina Lover's picture

Russian jets carry out bombing missions from altitudes higher than the Stinger is capable of reaching. They also have a technology that blinds or deflects the missiles.  They are leaving for other reasons.

caconhma's picture

Look at Ukraine. Ukrainian army started a new war against Russians in Eastern Ukraine. 

Once again, Putin has a major problem there.

BlindMonkey's picture

The Ukie army is a microcosm of the West.  It is a pitiful collection of warmongers backed by debt with no real way to sustain operations.  The biggest difference is that the bulk of the Ukie army are draftees that are paid a pittance and treated like cannon fodder.  The Nazi volunteers can fight but they are very few in number.  When the war gets going there, it should be short and be done by the fall/winter with the Ukies completely spent.

BlindMonkey's picture

An update:


Rabid, arch neo-con McCain is predicting a bloody spring in the Ukraine.  Money says he has insider knowledge that this is a planned fact.  


"And as Russia turns its resource and attention elsewhere, I fear that a bloody spring is coming again to Ukraine."-John "Show me the Bodies" McCain



Volkodav's picture

Ukraine military escapes daily, over to Novo side, into Russia however to get away....

Several Naval Officers slipped sides in Crimea recent days.

Mainly the radicals, private gangs and really stupid are only

really want or left to fight...

Most high rank remaining stay far from the slaughter

Kiev need keep them busy and far away as possible


Azannoth's picture

My analysis, there are 3 options

1st - Putin and the ZioCons are on the same side playing good cop/bad cop

2nd - Putin knows something we don't, and does not want to comit too much Russian assets in the Middle East for the fear of possibly gettin pulled into a larger regional war w/ Saudi Arabia and Co.

3rd - Putin has made a backroom deal, securing him self a partial victory w/o further risks, he "cashed out" so to speak


Either way, I don't think this is good for Russia. They have everything going for them and they suddenly fold?! so what gives? It would make more sense to completely destroy DAESH and show Turkey/NATO who's boss. Russia has the "Rebels" on the ropes and is weeks away from a total KO win, so why stop now?

BiggestLoser's picture

Vlad values the wisdom of Kenny Rodgers?

Blankone's picture

Putin is signing a Free Trade Agreement with --- Israel.

Putin still refuses, despite the threats to do so, to deliver the S300f+ to Iran (or Syria) as per Russia's 2007 contracts.

Russia/Putin voted for or consented to Iraq1, Iraq2, Serbia, Libya, Yemen blockade, Syria's removal of chemical weapons and sanctions on Iran.  By abstaining from voting (the times they did not actually vote FOR the actions) they gave consent.

This betrayal by Putin is perfectly in line with his betrayal of EUke.  TWICE Putin forced the EUke's to accept a ceasefire when they were posed to destroy the WUke's.  The WUke's were then allowed to safely withdraw - only to attack and kill again.

Putin/Russia has been setting up Iran, I hope Iran does not trust Russia now but seeing as how the appeared to trust Putin after Russia betrayed those other countries who knows.

The myth of Putin's/Russia ferocious might and "Do not anger the bear" garbage is shown for what it is.  Time for more photo opps riding horses or in a judo outfit. 

Other's now see Putin can be bought off or is too weak to even follow through an air only campaign in Syria.  Either way Putin/Russia does not stand with any "allies" but betrays them at first opportunity.  But watch how NATO closes in directly and covertly while Putin plays checkers to their chess.

Sadly, more and more it appears number 1 is possible.  Putin is part a ruse and is actually party to the zionist scheme.  Or is at least playing along so he and the other Russian elite can grab assets when Russia falls again.  (If Russia falls it will never rise again.)

philipat's picture

I respectfully disagree. Putin knows that Russia is being provoked into a war and he is taking sensible steps to avoid being pushed by the Neocons into a war which could have catastrophic consequenses for cililization as we know it  Especially with the Turks acting as a "Loose Canon" and as a US/NATO ally, things could very easily get out of control. Erdogan isn't happy that his personal wealth is being threatened by cutting off the illegal oil supplies to Turkey.

headhunt's picture

With the crush on the price of oil, Putin is cash starved and I suspect the last planes out of Syria are taking the last of Syrias gold.

philipat's picture

Russia is economically self-sufficient and has a Debt/GDP ratio of around 17% (Compared to the US ratio of around 300% all-in but still not allowing for unallocated liabilities such as SS etc.). It also has a population entirely behind its President AND prepared to accept hardship as necessary. So, to me, your opinion seems to lack credibility.

headhunt's picture

"prepared to accept hardship as necessary"

Trust me, the Russians accept hardship every day without war.

Russia is cash starved - that is a fact. The ruble has been crushed and now oil, it is just economic fact - not propaganda.

TahoeBilly2012's picture

Phil the whole Debt to GDP ratio jusst doesn't register with most. Debt's don't matter I suppose. Russia's broke, yea okay. 

toady's picture

Debt doesn't matter. Just ask Dick Cheney. 

philipat's picture

The RUB has been deliberately crushed by Washington. It will recover, especially now that Russia will invoice all its oil and gas exports to Europe in RUB, so Europe will have to sell USD to buy RUB. And with China, all trade will be in CNY/RUB. You're living in the past..

Element's picture

The Russian buck is crushed because Putin thoroughly mismanaged Russia's foreign affairs and diplomacy, invaded another country, forced war on it, annexed its lands, stole its navy, threatened many other countries with nuclear attack, and armed intimidation flights and submarine intrusion shenanigans, and got rightly hit with economic sanctions for it. And it's lucky that's all he got.

Then he completely fucked up his gas route to European gas and oil markets as well, screwed that up monumentally, and thought Europe would cave, but didn't and wont.

Then he tried to interfere in Greece, then he tried again in Turkey, and got severely rebuffed.

Then he tried to tie in Russia to the debt-zombie that is China as an economic lifeline, and now he's blowing through reserves as China sinks into decades of severe economic re-balancing and stagnation, punctuated by multiple full-blown recessions and much lower gas demand.

But he bravely laughed it all off ... because Russia's going to be just fine ...

Baby Bladeface's picture
Baby Bladeface (not verified) Element Mar 15, 2016 9:33 PM

Why you are embracing MSM narrative strongly and without question? Is clear the stories famously you swallow hooks, lines and sinkers.

Example: "submarine intrusion shenanigans".

You somehow from google banned? Russian sub in Swedish waters found? Found. Is cunning plot Putin? Be interested the explanation to hear as sub is sunk since 100 years.


Perhaps you do refer to stuffing from 2014 about "mystery Russian sub" lurking menace? Six months later and Swedish navy tells was just a "workboat".


But hey, western MSM propaganda provides comforting cocoon of fantasy...

Element's picture

I wasn't referring to that, there is a reason the UK suddenly decided to buy the P-8A.

BlindMonkey's picture

"The ruble has been crushed and now oil, it is just economic fact - not propaganda."


Yet the Russian economy keeps rolling along.   It doesn't mater what the ruble price of dollars are if you can buy everything you need in rubles.

Element's picture



philipat "... US ratio of around 300% ..."


Sorry, but no, numbers you pull out of your arse do not count, fool.

USA Debt as % of GDP = 108.97%


philipat's picture

Oh, only 108.97% eh?

That, of course, does NOT include Private and Corporate Debt. And it still omits all other unrecorded liabilities for Social Security and Other Government "Guaranteed" Programs?

So come on, get real?

Element's picture

You said US Debt to GDP was about 300%.

It isn't anywhere near that.

And what does the Russian 17% represent? hmm?

You are full of shit, save the mincing.

conscious being's picture

Unfunded liabilities element. Look it up.

Element's picture

US Debt to GDP ... look it up fool

conscious being's picture

You are such a turd element. Unfunded liabilities constitute debt that your stupid debtclock ignores. Look it up again ... fool.

Element's picture

US Debt to GDP is the topic of this, fuckwit.

Volkodav's picture

reality is they lost track of long ago

didn't woory cos yoke is on the public, most of whom is ignorant

but far more obligations than 300%..passed that long ago in real..


flapdoodle's picture

I find the "Russia running out of money" meme as highly unlikely as the reason for this "pullback".

If you analyse what Russia spends in projecting its air power in Syria, it doesn't take much "cash".

1) The Russian military gets it gas almost free.

2) Russia still has to make payroll whether the military is stationed in Volgograd or Latakia. No doubt there is some sort of "combat pay" incentive that is extra, but thats paid in Rubles.

3) The Russian airforce is no doubt using up all its old Cold War era inventory of bombs. These are kostlos and they no doubt have LOTS of old ordnance. Save money on disposal...

Money isn't the reason for this (it may be a factor, but secondary to the PR value of the pullback). It would also be very interesting to know how much of a real pullback this is... 10%, 50%??? My guess is the speed and depth of pullback will be based on other factors, e.g success on the battlefield by SAA and/or at the negociating table...




philipat's picture

AND the money Russia spends on defence actually gets spent on defence. Unlike in the US where most of the obscene amounts of taxpayers funds gets "Lost" in defence contractors income statements (The F-35 doesn't seem to be in action anywhere yet and has already cost how many BILLIONS?) and, more literally "Lost" as in The Pentagon not being able to account for USD 8.8 TRILLION funding?

But I'm sure it's all just a mistake........

Baby Bladeface's picture
Baby Bladeface (not verified) philipat Mar 15, 2016 8:39 AM

F-35 only 'action' will see and is against defenceless hill people, Papuan tribes and stone age primitives.

Airplane F-35 expensive by too much to risk against adequate opponent.

philipat's picture

As for example, the Russian Su-35 would knock the F-35 out of the sky? Hence it hasn't been deployed ANYWHERE despite costing BILLIONS? It would be embarassing if an F-35 got knocked out of the sky by a Russian jet wouldn't it?

But, of course, that could never happen could it?

Latina Lover's picture

From the perspective of show casing Russian Military equipment including jets for export, the Syrian war is a huge PR win worth  literally billions.

Morbid's picture

russia have actually profited alot from this syria endeavor. just look up how much military contracts they've signed in the past half year and compare it with figures the year before..