Russian involvement in the Syrian Civil War
Part of a series on the
|History of Russia|
Russia has supported the incumbent Bashar al-Assad government of Syria since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011: politically, with military aid, and since 30 September 2015 also through direct military involvement. The latter marked the first time since the end of the Cold War that Russia entered an armed conflict outside the borders of the former Soviet Union.
Since October 2011, Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, repeatedly vetoed Western-sponsored draft resolutions in the UN Security Council that demanded the resignation of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and opened the possibility of U.N. sanctions against his government.
The Russian leadership rejects the demands of Western powers and their Arab allies that Bashar Assad should not be allowed to be a participant in the Syria settlement. In January and February 2012, Russian peace initiatives were dismissed by the opposition Syrian National Council and by the Western powers.
In September 2015, the Federation Council, Russia's upper house of parliament authorised the Russian president to use armed forces in Syria. Russia acknowledged that Russian air and missile strikes targeted not only ISIL, but also rebel groups in the Army of Conquest coalition like al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's Syrian branch, and even FSA.
Throughout the course of the intervention, Russian airstrikes had been criticized and highlighted for allegedly conducting a campaign focusing on the destruction of hospitals and medical facilities as well killing several thousands of civilians. Due to this, Russia lost its seat at the UN Human Rights Council in October 2016. A report by Airwars found there had been a 34% increase in incidents of civilian harm caused by Russia during the first six months of 2018 compared to 2017.
The U.S. Deputy for the Middle East at the United States Department of Defense Michael Mulroy said that in October 2018, Turkey and Russia signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Idlib, the last rebel-held territory in Syria. The agreement was supposed to provide for a ceasefire and protect the three million people now living in the province. However, Syria and Russia have repeatedly broken the ceasefire causing a humanitarian catastrophe, as desperate civilians, fleeing the fighting, seek refuge.
History of ties between Syria and Russia
During the Cold War (1947–1991), Syria was an ally to the Soviet Union in opposition to the Western powers, and a strong political bond grew. Between 1955 and 1958, Syria received about $294 million from the Soviet Union for military and economic assistance. The Suez War in 1956 accelerated a multiplication of ties between Syria and the Soviet Union, simultaneously with the increase in power and influence of the Syrian Ba'ath Party.
The Syrian Revolution of February 1966 gave the Soviet Union the opportunity to further support Syria. In 1971, under an agreement with the Syrian Ba'athist government's President Hafez al-Assad, the Soviet Union was allowed to open its naval military base in Tartus, giving the Soviet Union a stable presence in the Middle East. Thousands of Syrian military officers and educated professionals studied in Russia during President Hafez al-Assad's three-decade rule (1971–2000).
In April 1977, Hafez al-Assad visited Moscow, and met with Soviet leaders Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin among others, as a sign of improved Syrian relations with the USSR. Three years later, in October 1980, Syria and the Soviet Union signed a twenty-year Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation.
Syrian Civil War
The Syrian Civil War is an ongoing international armed conflict taking place in Syria. The unrest began in the early spring of 2011 within the context of Arab Spring protests, with nationwide protests against President Bashar al-Assad's government, whose forces responded with violent crackdowns. The civil uprising phase created the platform for emergence of militant opposition movements and massive defections from the Syrian Army, which gradually transformed the conflict from a civil uprising to an armed rebellion, and later a civil war. The rebel Free Syrian Army was created on 29 July 2011 and from then on, the struggle took the shape of an armed insurgency, with civil resistance disbanded and opposition members turning to arms. Many factions arose, either as break offs of the Free Syrian Army or spontaneously in their own rights.
On 6 March 2013, the Arab League gave its members the green light to arm the Syrian rebels. On 26 March 2013, at the Arab league summit in Doha, the League recognised the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people.
Since 2014, a significant part of Syria's territory had been claimed by Islamic State (ISIL), an entity internationally recognised as a terrorist organization; a number of Western and other countries, most notably the U.S., Britain and France, began to participate in direct military action against ISIL in the territory of Syria.
The Russian naval facility in Tartus in Syria is Russia's only naval facility in the Mediterranean region and only remaining military facility outside the former USSR. In March 2012, critics saw the position of the naval facility in Tartus as a chief motivating factor for Russia to speak out in favor of the Assad government maintaining stability in the region.[clarification needed]
Russian jihadists in Syria
At least since mid 2013, Chechen and other Russian North Caucasus volunteers have been fighting in the Syrian Civil War against the government of Bashar al-Assad. The Washington Post in 2014 reported that Moscow was concerned about such fighters returning to Russia after having picked up militant contacts in Syria.
As of September 2015, an estimated 2,500 Russian nationals were fighting alongside ISIL, and President Putin declared that their return to Russia would be a threat to Russia, and that it would be better to fight them on Syrian ground.
Economic importance and history of arms sales
Many Russian soldiers have died during the war. Russian officials estimate that as of January 2019, 112 soldiers have been killed since troops were sent to fight in Syria in 2015. The BBC has a higher estimation of 175 deaths having occurred from 2015 to the end of 2018.
In 2019, the Russian Armed Forces were accused of covering up the death one of its soldiers, junior sergeant Andranik Arustamyan. However, Arustamyan's family has defended the military and said that they were informed of his death.
Political efforts and statements
At the end of May 2011, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia opposed United Nations' involvement in Syria because "the situation doesn't present a threat to international peace and security ... Syria is a very important country in the Middle East and destabilizing Syria would have repercussions far beyond its borders", and asserted that Assad had made attempts at major reform.
In June, both the US and other Western governments as well as Syrian protesters prevailed upon Russia to change its position, and finally a Syrian anti-government delegation visited Moscow and met with Russian envoy Mikhail Margelov, who after the meeting noted that "leaders come and go" and called for "an end to any and all forms of violence", which some interpreted to be a shift away from Assad, once a major ally, in foreign policy. "A harder line from Russia would be a blow to Syria which relies heavily on Russian military equipment and has long-standing ties to Moscow", the American nbcnews.com wrote that day.
On 19 July, Russian Prime minister, Dmitri Medvedev said he was working with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to find consensus for a strategy to persuade the Syrian government to abandon violence and begin a constructive dialogue with protesters. He did not threaten to use Russia's veto at the United Nations Security Council to oppose a resolution critical of the Syrian government, as Russia has previously said it could do. Medvedev also said it was imperative that Syria not slide into civil war the way Libya did in 2011.
Amid the siege of Hama, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 1 August documenting deaths in Hama as well as condemning the violence, including the alleged killing of eight policemen by Assad's government. The statement beseeched the pro-Assad forces as well as the violent protesters to "exercise maximum restraint".
On 3 August, Russian UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin stated that Russia will not oppose a UN resolution condemning the violence in Syria as long as it does not include sanctions or other "pressures". Al Jazeera reported that Russia had "softened the blow" to the Assad government by insisting successfully that the UN would make a statement rather than a resolution on the matter. On 23 August, the Russian delegation to the UN, along with those of China and Cuba, took to the floor to denounce a UN inquiry into human rights violations by the Assad government. Vitaly Churkin stated that "We hope to see progress, we hope to see dialogue established in Syria. ... We think we should continue to work within the scope of that unified position."
On 26 August, Reuters reported that according to UN envoys, the effort by the US, France, the UK, Germany and Portugal to impose UN sanctions on Syria was meeting "fierce resistance" from Russia and China, with Vitaly Churkin threatening to use Russia's veto power. According to Reuters, the arms embargo included in the sanctions would prevent Russian firms (the main source of Syrian weaponry) from selling to Syria. Russia proposed a second "rival" resolution to be voted on, described as "toothless" by Western diplomats, which did not include sanctions or other punitive measures, but rather urged Syria to speed up the process of its reforms.
On 4 October, Russia and China exercised a double veto against a Western-drafted Security Council resolution. The resolution demanded an end to all violence in Syria, accountability for those responsible for it, condemned "grave and systematic" human rights violations, called for a political process, encouraged the opposition to take part in that, and said the Security Council would review Syria's compliance with the resolution in 30 days after which the Council would "consider options", including unspecified "measures" under the United Nations Charter. The New York Times qualified that as "a weak reference to the possibility of sanctions against Damascus", while Russia had said it would not accept a resolution that included even a hint of sanctions. Russia and the other BRICS nations (Brazil, India, China, South Africa) argued that a UNSC resolution on Libya had been twisted to justify the NATO 2011 military intervention in Libya leading into war against the Libyan government and were determined not to repeat that. After this veto, an analyst of the Center for the Analysis of Middle East Conflicts said to the BBC Russian service: Assad has a better chance to resist than the opposition does to win, therefore Moscow is now simply betting on Assad.
In the days following their rejecting the Security Council resolution, both Russia and China issued public admonishments of the Syrian government, separately expressing their desire for the government to reform and respect the will of the Syrian people. "If the Syrian leadership is unable to complete such reforms, it will have to go, but this decision should be made not by NATO and certain European countries, it should be made by the people of Syria and the government of Syria," Medvedev told the Russian Security Council.
On 1 November, Sergei Lavrov said at a Russian-Gulf ministerial meeting that Russia would oppose the recent proposal for a no-fly zone in Syria as (in Russia's view) the no-fly zone in Libya had been used to "support one side in a civil war". Lavrov nonetheless stated, when asked if Russia was supporting the Assad government, that "we are not protecting any regime".
On 15 December, Russia proposed a UN Security Council resolution condemning the violence "by all parties, including disproportionate use of force by Syrian authorities". The draft resolution also raised concern over "the illegal supply of weapons to the armed groups in Syria". Western diplomats initially referred to the proposed resolution as a basis for negotiations. The proposal was an updated version of a Russian-Chinese draft resolution introduced to the Security Council a few months earlier.
By the end of January 2012, a resolution proposal, competing with the Russian 15 December draft (see above), had been drafted by Western and Arab powers, which, in contrast, did not condemn violence by both sides in the conflict and did not rule out military intervention. Russia indicated that it would not agree to the Western-Arab draft in its current form, and that it would continue to promote its own resolution in the Security Council. On 4 February 2012, Russia and China vetoed that Western and Arab sponsored Security Council resolution, which urged Bashar al-Assad to adhere to a peace plan drafted by the Arab League.
On 7 February 2012, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, along with foreign intelligence chief Mikhail Fradkov, met with President Assad and reported to the world that President Assad was committed to reform of the constitution and electoral process. Additionally, the Russian delegation said that Syria alone held the power to change the fate of its people, without foreign intervention. In March, Lavrov said in a televised interview that Syria's leadership had ignored Russia's warnings and made "very many mistakes" that helped drag the country to the brink of civil war.
On 16 April, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and other Russian diplomats met with members of the Syrian opposition and Hassan Abdul-Azim, head of an opposition group, the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change. When special U.N. envoy Kofi Annan developed a plan to end Syrian violence, Russia attempted to play a major role in the outcome of the plan by meeting with both the Assad government and opposition forces, while vetoing multiple plans during Security Council votes to accomplish the goals set forth by an international consensus.
On 20 April, the Security Council announced an agreement to expand the number of U.N. cease-fire observers in Syria from 30 to 300, as well as to allow Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to decide on the peacekeepers' deployment based on conditions on the ground. Under the plan, Syrian violence would immediately stop and the Assad government would begin implementation of the Annan six-point peace plan. The draft was the result of two texts proposed by Russia and European Council members. When the texts were merged, the portion imposing sanctions on the Assad government for failure to comply with the peacekeeping plan was removed, as requested by Russia and China. The Russian draft also did not contain language dictating that U.N. peacekeepers' presence in Syria was a condition of Assad's agreement to return troops and heavy weapons to their barracks.
The United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) was passed by the U.N. Security Council on 21 April 2012, and deployed up to 300 unarmed observers to Syria for a period of up to 90 days. The plan also called for passage of the Annan peace plan, making unanimous passage of the resolution significant. After the peace plan was passed, Russian's U.N. ambassador Vitaly Churkin relayed Russia's support of the agreement to the media, while other nations expressed frustration with the process and lack of progress in ending the violence so far.
A Bloomberg article (April 2012) said that although Russia has tried to retain the image of a peacemaker in this conflict, Russian diplomats have repeatedly criticized the potential condemnation of Assad by western nations. Russia has also accused the West and allied nations of sabotaging a cease-fire brokered by Russia between Syrian forces.
In the aftermath of the Houla massacre (May 2012), Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that "The government bears the main responsibility for what is going on" and that "Any government in any country bears responsibility for the security of its citizens". Russia's reaction was considered to be a condemnation of the Syrian government. However, Lavrov also stated that the rebels shared the blame for the killings, noting that some victims had been killed at close range in a district controlled by the opposition fighters. As talk of UN intervention intensified, a foreign affairs committee chair in the Russian government, hardened Russia's stance, moving it further away from the earlier condemnation of Damascus, saying that "We have very strong doubts that those people who were shot at point-blank [range] and were stabbed, that this was the action of forces loyal to President Assad. ... The shelling was probably ... the troops of Mr Assad, but the stabbing and point-blank firing was definitely from the other side."
According to Steve Rosenberg of the BBC in June 2012, Russia accused the US of setting double standards: US selling weapons to Bahrain and at the same time criticizing Russia for supporting Syrian President Assad with weapons. Russia feels that the US is acting hypocritically by expecting them to discontinue selling weapons to the Syrian government, since the US supplies Syrian rebels with weapons via Turkey. From Russia's perspective, if US aids the Syrian opposition, they are indirectly, undermining Russia's national security. BBC commented that Russia expects only one of two outcomes to take place in the Syrian civil war: either Assad stays in power, ensuring their stronghold influence in the middle east region, or, radical Islamists take over, creating a terror threat for Russia.
On 11 June 2013, President Vladimir Putin acknowledged that President Assad's not undertaking any "reform" had led to the current situation in Syria. He stated on Russian state media that: "Syria as a country was rife for some kind of change. And the government of Syria should have felt that in due time and should have undertaken some reform. Had they done that, what we're seeing in Syria today would have never happened."
On 26 June 2013, the Deputy Russian Foreign Minister said that the small Russian naval base at Tartus has been evacuated. Mikhail Bogdanov stated that: "Presently, the Russian Defense Ministry has not a single person stationed in Syria. The base does not have any strategic military importance".
On 9 September 2013, responding to U.S. threats of strikes against Syria in response to use of chemical weapons in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov issued a proposal intended to avert a U.S. attack, with provisions including Syria's placing its chemical weapons under international control and their subsequent destruction.
On 12 September 2013, The New York Times published an op-ed by Vladimir Putin urging the United States to avoid unilateral military action and work with international cooperation in support of a negotiated solution to the Syrian conflict.
On 15 September 2015, in Dushanbe at a meeting of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization, Putin called for a united, international effort together with Syria to fight the threat of ISIL but also said that Syrian President Assad "is ready to integrate the same [healthy] part of the opposition into the state's administration".
On 27 September, President Vladimir Putin stated, in an interview with CBS's '60 Minutes': "More than 2,000 terrorist-fighters from Russia and ex-Soviet republics are in the territory of Syria. There is a threat of their return to us. So, instead of waiting for their return, we are helping President al-Assad fight them".
In the United Nations General Assembly, 28 September 2015, President Putin seemed to lay at least part of the responsibility for the Syrian Civil War with unnamed powers that had been "pushing" for "democratic revolution" in Syria:
... We all know that after the end of the Cold War, a single center of domination emerged in the world. ...
... We are all different. And we should respect that. No one has to conform to a single development model that someone has once and for all recognized as the only right one.
... Attempts to push for changes within other countries based on ideological preferences often led to tragic consequences and to degradation rather than progress. It seems however, that far from learning from others' mistakes, everyone just keeps repeating them. And so the export of revolutions, this time of so-called "democratic" ones, continues. Suffice it to look at the situation in the Middle East and North Africa. ... Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress we got violence, poverty and a social disaster. ... It is now obvious that the power vacuum created in some countries of the Middle East and North Africa led to emergence of anarchy areas. Those immediately started to be filled with extremists and terrorists. Tens of thousands of militants are fighting under the banners of the so-called "Islamic State". ... And now the ranks of radicals are being joined by the members of the so-called "moderate" Syrian opposition supported by the Western countries. First, they are armed and trained, and then they defect to the Islamic State.
... Russia has always been firm and consistent in opposing terrorism in all its forms. Today, we provide military and technical assistance both to Iraq and Syria that are fighting terrorist groups. We think it is an enormous mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government and its Armed Forces ... We should finally acknowledge that no one but President Assad's Armed Forces and Kurd militia are truly fighting the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations in Syria. ...
Putin again called for cooperation with the Syrian government in fighting terrorism: "we should acknowledge that no-one except for Assad and his militia are truly fighting Isis in Syria."
On 1 October 2015, President Vladimir Putin dismissed unidentified media reports of alleged casualties among civilians caused by Russian airstrikes in Syria as "information warfare" against Russia, stating that the claims had begun before the planes used in the airstrikes had even taken off.
On 12 October, Putin appealed to members of the American-led intervention in Syria to join the Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War, highlighting the legality of Russia's intervention at Syria's request and questioning whether the U.S. one was valid at all. He highlighted the legitimate authority of Syria's fledgling constitutional democracy and lambasted the scrapped Pentagon program funding rebel training in Syria, saying "It would have been better to give us $500 million. At least we would have used it more effectively from the point of view of fighting international terrorism."
On 13 October, Putin criticized the leaders of the American-led intervention in Syria for sending arms to the area that could end up in the wrong hands. He also criticized the American decision not to share with Russia information regarding potential ISIL targets, adding that American side does not seem to have a clear understanding of what really happens in the country and what goals they are seeking to achieve.
In mid-October, Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, talking of the U.S. government's refusal to engage in dialogue with Russia on cooperation in Syria, called this a "silly behavior": "As a result of these decisions and the cancellation of talks, the Americans have demonstrated their weakness." He added Russia remained open to discussion of "any issues".
Russian peace initiatives and efforts
On 30 January 2012, the Russian foreign ministry suggested "informal" talks in Moscow between the Syrian regime and opposition, and said the Syrian authorities had already agreed to the Russian offer. Abdel Baset Seda, a member of the Syrian National Council's executive committee, told Reuters that the SNC had not received any formal invitation for such talks, but would decline if one arrived: "Our position has not changed and it is that there is no dialogue with (President Bashar al-Assad)".
According to Martti Ahtisaari who held discussions about Syria with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council in February 2012, a Russian three-point plan, put forth by its ambassador, Vitaly Churkin included a proposal for Assad to cede power. The plan also required the Syrian government and the opposition to come to the negotiating table. It was ignored by the US, Britain and France, because at the time they thought that Assad's regime was about to fall.
7 November 2013, Russia again announced it was trying to broker talks in Moscow between the Syrian government and opposition, seeing that the U.S. and Russian negotiators failed to agree on whether or not Assad should be forced out of office. Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Bogdanov said the Moscow talks could focus on humanitarian problems as well on some political issues.
On 22 February 2016, in Munich, foreign ministers of Russia and the U.S., as co-chairs of the ISSG, announced that they had concluded a deal to seek a nationwide "cessation of hostilities" in Syria that came into effect on 27 February 2016 at 00:00 (Damascus time).
On 23 February 2016, the Russian defence ministry inaugurated the reconciliation centre headquartered at its Khmeimim base, which was billed as a step undertaken in accordance with arrangements between Russia and the U.S.
Military support for the Assad government
Military assistance prior to the intervention
From early stages of the Syrian conflict, Russia, under its contractual obligations, delivered ammunition and weapons to the Syrian government; in early 2012 Russia's contracts with Syria for arms were unofficially estimated to be worth 1.5 billion US dollars, comprising 10% of Russia's global arms sales. The arms sales to the Syrian government provoked criticism on the part of Western as well as some Arab nations. The Russian government dismissed criticism noting that the arms sales to Syria did not violate any standing arms embargoes. On 1 June 2012, shortly after the Houla massacre, Russia's foreign ministry in turn blamed the massacre, in which 108 people were said to have been killed, on foreign assistance to Syrian rebels, including arms deliveries and mercenary training: "The tragedy in Houla showed what can be the outcome of financial aid and smuggling of modern weapons to rebels, recruitment of foreign mercenaries and flirting with various sorts of extremists".
Besides providing the refurbished MI-25 helicopter gunships, Russia was also said to have transferred to Syria the Buk-M2 air defense system, the Bastion coastal defence missile system, and Yak-130 combat jet trainer. Russian shipments of fuel have also assisted Assad, and an unspecified number of military advisers are teaching Syrians how to use Russian weapons. The head of Russia's federal service for military-technical co-operation confirmed that the repaired Syrian MI-25 attack helicopters were "ready to be delivered on time" adding that "Syria is our friend, and we fulfill all our obligations to our friends". Amnesty International, noting the Syrian government's headlong deployment of military helicopters, criticised Russia: "Anyone supplying attack helicopters – or maintaining, repairing or upgrading them – for the Syrian government displays a wanton disregard for humanity." Human Rights Watch warned Russia's state-owned arms-trading company Rosoboronexport in a letter that, under international law, "providing weapons to Syria while crimes against humanity are being committed may translate into assisting in the commission of those crimes", and called on governments and companies around the world to stop signing new contracts and consider suspending current dealings with the Russian company.
In May 2013, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Moscow in a bid to convince Russian president Vladimir Putin not to sell S-300 surface-to-air missile batteries and 144 missiles to Assad's government. The long-range air defense system would be a leap for Syria's current air defense system, enabling them to down fighter planes and cruise missiles.
The Assad government was reported to have used Russian-supplied MI-8 and Mi-17 helicopters to carry out barrel-bomb attacks in Homs. According to former senior American intelligence official Jeffrey White, Russia was most likely providing spare parts such as engines, transmissions and rotors.
In January 2014, a Russian company AR 514 (514 авиационный ремонтный завод) posted photos in their portfolio showing them performing repairs and upgrade on Su-24 identified to belong to Syrian fleet. In 2015 Assad confirmed in an interview that Russia has been supplying arms to Syria based on contracts signed before and after the beginning of the conflict.
Syrian officers and air defence personnel were trained in Russia.
2015–16 intervention and airstrikes
As of September 2015, Russia has stepped up its military presence in Syria, deploying 12 Su-25 ground attack aircraft, 12 Su-24 interdictor aircraft, 6 Sukhoi Su-34 medium bombers and 4 Su-30 multirole combat aircraft and 15 helicopters (including Mi-24 attack helicopters) at the Bassel Al-Assad International Airport near Latakia. The planes are protected by at least two or possibly three SA-22 surface-to-air, antiaircraft systems, and unarmed MQ-1 Predator-like surveillance drones are being used to fly reconnaissance missions. In addition to air forces, ground forces include 6 T-90 tanks, 15 artillery pieces, 35 armored personnel carriers and 200 Marines (with housing facilities for 1,500 personnel) BM-30 multiple missile launchers have been spotted near Latakia.
On 30 September 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin requested permission from Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, to deploy the country's military in Syria. On the same day, Federation Council approved the use of Russian military in Syria to fight terrorist groups, the Islamic State in particular. Permission was granted after a unanimous vote, however any combat operations will be limited to using the air force. Russian media reported that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had asked for Russia to intervene by providing military assistance.
On 30 September 2015, Russia launched its first airstrikes against targets in Rastan, Talbiseh, and Zafaraniya in Homs province of Syria. Moscow gave the United States a one-hour advance notice of its operations. The Homs area is crucial to President Bashar al-Assad's control of western Syria. Insurgent control of the area would separate the coastal cities of Latakia- where Russian aircraft are based- and Tartous, where Russia operates a naval facility from Damascus.
On 1 October 2015, the Russian defence ministry spokesman said Russia had deployed over 50 aircraft (including also Su-34) in Syria: "The air group was deployed on very short notice. We have been able to do it, as most of the materiel and ammunition had already been there, at our depot in Tartus. We only had to move our aircraft and deliver some equipment."
At the end of December 2015, senior U.S. officials privately admitted that Russia, while maintaining a relatively light military footprint, had achieved its central goal of stabilising the Assad government and, with the costs relatively low and minimal casualties, could sustain the operation at this level for years to come.
In February 2016, the Russian Ambassador to Syria said that part of Russia's arms deliveries to the Syrian government was gratis or on easy terms.
Role of private contractors
Officially, Russia is participating only in an air war over Syria, with a small number of special and support troops on the ground. However, in November 2016 Reuters published a report that contained evidence that Russian forces were playing a more substantial role in ground combat by employing contractors recruited through private agencies registered in foreign jurisdictions. According to the report, despite their unofficial status, these troops operated in coordination with Russia's regular military and were given benefits back home normally available to serving soldiers. Russian contractors fighting in Syria are reportedly paid $6,500 a month.
According to publications by Russian media, Russian contract fighters had taken part in combat in Syria before the formal Russian intervention began in September 2015. According to an official in a Ukrainian law enforcement agency, at least 1,700 Russian contractors have been deployed to Syria, many of whom had earlier served in Ukraine.
Russian nationals fighting for rebel/jihadist groups
In May 2016, Reuters published a Special Report titled "How Russia allowed homegrown radicals to go and fight in Syria" that, based on first-hand accounts, said that at least in the period between 2012 and 2014 the Russian government agencies appeared to run a programme to facilitate and encourage Russian radicals and militants to leave Russia and go to Turkey and then on to Syria; the persons in question had joined jihadist groups, some fighting with the ISIL.
A top leader of ISIL, Abu Omar al-Shishani, initially led a group of several hundred fighters, mostly from ex-Soviet states. In June 2016 Nikolai Bordyuzha estimated that 10,000 militants from ex-Soviet states were fighting alongside jihadist groups in the Middle East, including Syria. In July 2016, the British press cited ″experts″ as believing that ISIL fielded at least three exclusively Russian-speaking "Caucasian" (often led by Chechens) battalions of about 150 men each.
Cooperation attempts with U.S. and UK
Putin's proposal, mid-October 2015, that the U.S. receive a high-level Russian delegation and that a U.S. delegation arrive in Moscow to discuss coordinated action against terrorism in Syria was declined by the U.S.,  and the United Kingdom likewise declined.
Discussing a long-term political settlement
On 20 October 2015, three weeks into the Russian military campaign in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Moscow to discuss their joint military campaign "against terrorism" and "a long-term settlement, based on a political process that involves all political forces, ethnic and religious groups" in Syria.
In May 2012, the Russian Orthodox Church and its primate Patriarch Kirill I were reported by the U.S. mainstream press to be supportive of the existing regime in Syria; the Church's leadership alluded to the potential threat to Christians in Syria that had comprised 10% of the country's population.
In September 2015, one of Russia's Muslim (Sunni) leaders, Chief Mufti Talgat Tadzhuddin said: "We fully back the use of a contingent of Russian armed forces in the battle against international terrorism." In November 2015, Tadzhuddin publicly claimed that he had proposed to Vladimir Putin that Syria be annexed.
In early January 2016, Patriarch Kirill publicly endorsed Russia's military operation in Syria, saying that the campaign in that country that "is literally our neighbour" was "defence of the fatherland".
In May 2019, The Moscow Times reported that "Fifty-five percent of Russian respondents say their country should end its military campaign in Syria, up from 49 percent in August 2017, according to a poll published by Levada".
In January 2012, Human Rights Watch criticised Russia for "repeating the mistakes of Western governments during the Arab Spring by continuing to support a longstanding authoritarian ally [Assad] whose people have clearly expressed the desire for democratic change". The human rights group also accused Russia of selectively using one of its reports to support a one-sided position on Syria.
Former UK ambassador to Russia from 2004 to 2008, Tony Brenton, said in April 2012 that Russia is looking – in Syria – for its first opportunity since the Cold War to boost its brokering abilities.
In October 2015, Robert Fisk, Middle East correspondent for The Independent, wrote: "The Russian air force in Syria has flown straight into the West's fantasy air space. The Russians, we are now informed, are bombing the "moderates" in Syria – "moderates" whom even the Americans admitted two months ago, no longer existed."
The New York Times opined that with anti-government insurgents in Syria receiving for the first time bountiful supplies of U.S.-made anti-tank missiles and with Russia raising the number of airstrikes against the government's opponents that had raised morale in both camps, broadening war objectives and hardening political positions, the conflict was turning into an all-out proxy war between the U.S. and Russia. This analysis was shared by the Dutch quality newspaper NRC Handelsblad that drew parallels with the situation in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
In 2016 Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh expressed the view that Russia's military campaign against militant groups in Syria was "very good" and more effective than the U.S.-led campaigns, stating "I don't know why we persist on living in the Cold War, but we do. Russia actually did a very good job. They..did the bombing that was more effective than what we do, I think that's fair to say."
- US: The US-led coalition that is launching its own air strikes against ISIS demanded that Russia stop attacking targets other than ISIS. "We call on the Russian Federation to immediately cease its attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians and to focus its efforts on fighting ISIL," said the US-led coalition. it also objected to Assad's participation in the intelligence sharing. By the opposition other than ISIS it is meant the groups have received training and weapons from US and other Assad's enemies. "We do not support the presence of Syrian government officials who are part of a regime that has brutalized its own citizens," said Col. Steven H. Warren, the spokesman for the US-led coalition.
- United Kingdom: "They are backing the butcher Assad, which is a terrible mistake, for them and the world," said British Prime Minister David Cameron.
In June 2019, United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Mulroy said that both Russia and the Syrian regime have shown no concern for the suffering of the Syrian people creating one of the "worst humanitarian tragedies in history".
- Foreign involvement in the Syrian Civil War
- Syrian Civil War peace process
- Russia–Syria–Iran–Iraq Coalition
- Tsvetkova, Maria; Zverev, Anton (3 November 2016). "Ghost soldiers: the Russians secretly dying for the Kremlin in Syria". Reuters. Archived from the original on 3 November 2016. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
- "Russian vetoes are putting UN security council's legitimacy at risk, says US". The Guardian. 23 September 2015. Archived from the original on 17 May 2019. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
- "Russia says U.N. Syria draft unacceptable: Itar-Tass". Reuters. 27 January 2012. Archived from the original on 28 January 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
- Statement by Mr. Vladimir V. Putin, President of the Russian Federation, at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, 28 September 2015. (Unofficial translation.) Archived 8 May 2017 at the Wayback Machine un.org. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
- Khomami, Nadia. "UN general assembly: International community has failed Syrians, says Rouhani". TheGuardian. Archived from the original on 11 October 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
- "Syrian crisis: Russia air strikes 'strengthen IS'". bbc.com. bbc. Archived from the original on 3 October 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- "Russia says Syria agrees to peace talks with opposition amid mounting pressures". Al Arabiya. 30 January 2012. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
- Borger, Julian. "West 'ignored Russian offer in 2012 to have Syria's Assad step aside'". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 8 October 2016. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
- "Russian parliament unanimously approves use of troops in Syria". 30 September 2015. Archived from the original on 30 September 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
- Weir, Fred (14 October 2015). "Why isn't Russia singling out ISIS in Syria? Because it never said it would". Christian Science Monitor. Archived from the original on 16 October 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
- Hubbard, Ben (1 October 2015). "A Look at the Army of Conquest, a Prominent Rebel Alliance in Syria". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 25 October 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- Gordon, Michael R.; Schmitt, Eric. "Airstrikes by Russia Buttress Turkey in Battle vs. ISIS". New York Times. Archived from the original on 18 May 2017. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
- Solmaz, Mehmet. "Russia-Turkey row visible in northern Syria". Orient-news.net. Archived from the original on 11 October 2018. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
- Russian hand seen behind increased bombing of Syrian hospitals Archived 16 October 2018 at the Wayback Machine. NBC News. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
- Syria conflict: 34% rise in civilian deaths caused by Russian airstrikes, report finds Archived 16 October 2018 at the Wayback Machine. Independent. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
- Russia Loses Seat at the UN Human Rights Council Archived 16 October 2018 at the Wayback Machine. The Diplomat. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 August 2019. Retrieved 1 September 2019.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Trenin, Dmitri (5 February 2012). "Russia's Line in the Sand on Syria: Why Moscow Wants To Halt the Arab Spring". Foreign Affairs.com. Archived from the original on 10 March 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- Kreutz, Andrej (2007). Russia in the Middle East: friend or foe?. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group.
- A History of the Middle East, Peter Mansfield, Penguin 2010, 3rd edition, p.293 ISBN 978-0-718-19231-0
- International New York Times, 3 October 2015.
- Breslauer, George W. (1990). Soviet Strategy in the Middle East. Boston, Massachusetts.
- Peel, Michael; Clover, Charles (9 July 2012). "Syria and Russia's 'special relationship'". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
- Lea, David (2001). A Political Chronology of the Middle East. London, United Kingdom: Europa Publications.
- International conflict. "Iran to join, Russia already bombing Opposition's positions". Reuters.com. Reuters. Archived from the original on 4 October 2015. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
- Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Erika Solomon (22 February 2012). "Bombardment of Syria's homeless kills 21 people". Reuters. Archived from the original on 3 October 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2014.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- Jay Solomon & Nour Malas. "U.S. Bolsters Ties to Fighters in Syria". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
- Landler, Mark. "U.S. Considers Resuming Nonlethal Aid to Syrian Opposition". New York Times. Archived from the original on 20 July 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
- "Arab league allows members to arm rebels and offers seat to opposition". Al Bawaba. 9 February 2013. Archived from the original on 9 March 2013. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
- "Arab League summit opens in Doha with focus on Syrian crisis – Xinhua | English.news.cn". News.xinhuanet.com. 26 March 2013. Archived from the original on 28 May 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
- "The Long Road to Damascus". The Economist. 402 (8771): 25–28. 11 February 2012.
- Sharp, Jeremy M.; Christopher M. Blanchard, eds. (26 March 2012), "Unrest in Syria and U.S. Sanctions Against the Asad Regime", CRS Report for Congress, Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service
- "Militants from Russia's North Caucasus join "jihad" in Syria Archived 21 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine". Reuters. 6 March 2013.
- "Why being Chechen is a badge of honor for Islamist militants Archived 20 August 2018 at the Wayback Machine". The Washington Post. 3 July 2014.
- "Security Service At Moscow Airport Detains Siberian Man Suspected To Join ISIS In Syria Archived 16 February 2018 at the Wayback Machine". IBTimes. 24 September 2015.
- "Russia in Syria: President Putin's Middle East adventure exposes terrorist threat now facing Moscow". The Independent. 9 October 2015. Archived from the original on 7 December 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 April 2019. Retrieved 15 May 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Russia Covered up Soldier's Death in Syria, Media Reports". The Moscow Times. 9 January 2019. Archived from the original on 27 January 2019. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
- Meyer, Henry; Cook, Brad; Arkhipov, Ilya (2 June 2011). "Russia Warns U.S., NATO Against Military Aid to Syria Protests After Libya". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
- "US seeks Russia's cooperation over Syria resolution". Newsleaks.com. 18 June 2011. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
- Al Jazeera Syria Live Blog: Saturday, 11 June 2011 – 10:33. http://blogs.aljazeera.net/liveblog/syria-jun-11-2011-1133. Also at youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTmd5MFmhQc&feature=player_embedded Archived 15 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine
- "Russian envoy calls for end to violence in Syria". NBC News. 28 June 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
- Baetz, Juergen (19 July 2011). "Medvedev: Syria must not go the same way as Libya". Bloomberg Businessweek. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 20 July 2011.
- "Russian MFA Press and Information Department Comment on the Situation in Syria". Ministry of Foreign affairs of the Russian Federation. 1 August 2011. Archived from the original on 9 August 2011. Retrieved 3 August 2011.
- "Russia hardens stance on Syria". Times Live. Reuters. 3 August 2011. Archived from the original on 4 August 2011. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
- Al Jazeera Libya Live Blog. "Syria – Aug 4, 2011 – 07:32 Archived 25 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine"
- Khaled Yacoub Oweis (23 August 2011). "U.S. envoy visits Syria town, U.N. launches inquiry". Reuters. Archived from the original on 30 August 2011. Retrieved 30 August 2011.
- Charbonneau, Louis (23 August 2011). "Russian U.N. envoy says not time for Syria sanctions". Reuters. Archived from the original on 26 August 2011. Retrieved 30 August 2011.
- Charbonneau, Louis (26 August 2011). "Russia, China resist U.N. Syria sanctions push: envoys". Reuters. Archived from the original on 29 August 2011. Retrieved 30 August 2011.
- ‘U.N. Resolution on Syria Blocked by Russia and China’ Archived 15 July 2018 at the Wayback Machine. The New York Times, 4 October 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
- MacFarquhar, Neil (5 October 2011). "With Rare Double U.N. Veto on Syria, Russia and China Try to Shield Friend". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 12 March 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
- "Russia will not allow Libya-style military intervention in Syria". Middle East Online. 1 November 2011. Archived from the original on 10 February 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
- "Syria opposition gains regional backers". CNN. 11 October 2011. Archived from the original on 14 May 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
- "Russia proposes U.N. resolution on Syria; U.S. hopes to work with Moscow on draft". Al Arabiya. 15 December 2011. Archived from the original on 18 December 2011. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
- "Russia to promote its own Syria resolution at U.N." Reuters. 26 January 2012. Archived from the original on 27 January 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
- MacFarquhar, Neil (4 February 2012). "Russia and China Block U.N. Action on Crisis in Syria". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 7 March 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
- Gutterman, Steve (21 March 2012). "Russia Out to Maintain Clout, Improve Image on Syria". Reuters. Archived from the original on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
- "Syrian opposition delegation holds talks with Russian diplomats in Moscow". The Washington Post. Associated Press. 16 April 2012. Archived from the original on 23 April 2019. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- "UN Security Council reaches tentative agreement on increasing monitors in Syria to 300". The Washington Post. Associated Press. 20 April 2012. Archived from the original on 23 April 2019. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- "UN Authorizes 300 unarmed Syria Monitors". CNN. 21 April 2012. Archived from the original on 19 January 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
- [dead link]Meyer, Henry (20 April 2012). "Putin Pins Hope on Syria Cease-Fire to Combat U.S. Supremacy". Bloomberg Businessweek. Archived from the original on 23 April 2012. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- Hubbard, Ben; Jordans, Robert (29 May 2012). "UN: Most of 108 killed in Syria were executed". CBS8. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 30 May 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
- "Russia Condemns Syria Over Massacre". Time. 28 May 2012. Archived from the original on 29 May 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
- "Syria massacre: Rebels share blame, says Russia's Lavrov". BBC News. 28 May 2012. Archived from the original on 28 May 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- "Houla: How a massacre unfolded". BBC News. 29 May 2012. Archived from the original on 23 June 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
- Rosenberg, Steve (29 June 2012). "Why Russia Sells Syria Arms". BBC News. Archived from the original on 19 August 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
- "Vladimir Putin admits Bashar al-Assad responsible for Syrian uprising Archived 26 January 2019 at the Wayback Machine". The Daily Telegraph, 11 June 2013. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
- "All personnel withdrawn from Russian navy base in Syria – diplomat Archived 3 January 2018 at the Wayback Machine". RT, 26 June 2013
- "Russia reports pullout from small base in Syria Archived 15 July 2018 at the Wayback Machine". The Washington Post. 26 June 2013
- Michael R. Gordon; Steven Lee Myers (10 September 2013). "Obama Calls Russia Offer on Syria Possible 'Breakthrough'". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 12 September 2013. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
- Vladimir V. Putin (12 September 2013). "A Plea for Caution From Russia". The New York Times. p. A31. Archived from the original on 12 September 2013. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
- NRC Handelsblad, 16 and 18 September 2015.
- Le Monde, 17 September 2015.
- 'Poutine s'engage en Syrie pour remettre Assad en selle' (Putin engages himself in Syria to put Assad back in the saddle) Archived 3 February 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Il Blog di Pierluigi Piccini, 17 September 2015. Retrieved 29 October 2015. (N.B.: this happens to be exactly the article that was published that same day in Le Monde.)
- "Putin: Claims Russian jets killed civilians in Syria emerged before airstrikes started". RT English. 1 October 2015. Archived from the original on 16 October 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
- "Putin: U.S. should keep training Syrian rebels". United Press International. Archived from the original on 13 October 2015. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
- "Putin slams US on Syria, says partners have 'mush for brains'". Yahoo News. 13 October 2015. Archived from the original on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
- "Archived copy" ТАСС: Политика – Путин: РФ стремится не к лидерству в Сирии, а хочет внести вклад в борьбу с терроризмом. tass.ru (in Russian). 13 October 2015. Archived from the original on 21 December 2016. Retrieved 21 December 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Archived copy" Инвестиционный форум "Россия зовёт!" • Президент России. kremlin.ru (in Russian). 13 October 2015. Archived from the original on 21 December 2016. Retrieved 21 December 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "'Weak and short-sighted' – Russian PM slams White House for failure to sync ISIS bombing campaign". RT. 13 October 2015. Archived from the original on 19 October 2015. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
- "Медведев назвал отказ США от переговоров по Сирии слабостью 0". Rossiyskaya Gazeta. 16 October 2015. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
- Canceled Syria talks may get new start in Moscow Archived 19 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine, USA Today, 7 November 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
- "After a U.S. Shift, Iran Has a Seat at Talks on War in Syria". New York Times. 29 October 2015. Archived from the original on 31 October 2015. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
- "Joint Statement of the United States and the Russian Federation, as Co-Chairs of the ISSG, on Cessation of Hostilities in Syria". U.S. Department of State. 22 February 2016. Archived from the original on 18 April 2017. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
- "Temporary truce comes into effect". BBC News. 26 February 2016. Archived from the original on 25 July 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
- "U.N. demands Syria parties halt fighting, peace talks set for March 7". Reuters. 26 February 2016. Archived from the original on 23 June 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
- "На авиабазе Хмеймим начал работу Координационный центр по примирению враждующих сторон на территории Сирии : Министерство обороны Российской Федерации". Archived from the original on 17 January 2019. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
- Galpin, Richard (10 January 2012). "Russian arms shipments bolster Syria's embattled Assad". BBC News. Archived from the original on 22 May 2019. Retrieved 4 February 2012.
- "Houla massacre result of 'foreign aid' to rebels: Russia". Al Arabiya. 1 June 2012. Archived from the original on 3 February 2016. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
- "UN calls for investigation into Houla killings in Syria". BBC News. 1 June 2012. Archived from the original on 23 June 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
- Sayginer, Ozge (20 June 2012). "Why Russia will never back down? Reasons behind supporting the Assad regime". The European Strategist. Archived from the original on 1 March 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
- Donati, Jessica; Julia Payne (26 April 2012). "How Russia, Iran keep fuel flowing to Syria". Reuters. Archived from the original on 27 April 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
- "Syria: Moscow sends navy vessels to Syrian port". The Scotsman. 19 June 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
- Elder, Miriam., The Guardian, Thursday 28 June 2012., Syria will receive attack helicopters from Russia, Kremlin confirms http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/28/syria-receive-attack-helicopter-risussia?newsfeed=true
- "Syria: Reports of helicopter shipments underscore need for arms embargo". Amnesty International. 19 June 2012. Archived from the original on 22 June 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
- "Isolate Syria's Arms Suppliers". Human Rights Watch. 3 June 2012. Archived from the original on 1 July 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- Jay Solomon, Adam Entous & Julian E. Barnes (9 May 2013). "U.S. Is Warned Russia Plans Syria Arms Sale". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 13 December 2013. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
- Gordon, Michael R.; Sanger, David E.; Schmitt, Eric (17 February 2014). "U.S. Steps Up Criticism of Russian Role in Syrian War". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 6 November 2015. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
- "Syria's recently upgraded Su-24s (2)". 5 January 2014. Archived from the original on 11 October 2014. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
- "Syria gets Russian arms under deals signed since conflict began: Assad". Reuters. 31 March 2015. Archived from the original on 31 March 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
- "Insight: Russia's Syria diplomacy, a game of smoke and mirrors". Reuters. 6 June 2013. Archived from the original on 6 June 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
- Thomas Gibbons-Neff (21 September 2015). "This is the airpower Russia has in Syria". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 8 June 2019. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
- les premières images des avions russes en Syrie. YouTube. 28 September 2015. Archived from the original on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
- "Six Russian Su-34 Fullback bomber have just arrived in Syria. And this is the route they have likely flown to get there". 28 September 2015. Archived from the original on 9 June 2019. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
- Rogoway, Tyler. "First Video Report From Russia's Air Base In Syria Shows Su-34s In Action". Foxtrot Alpha. Archived from the original on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
-  Archived 19 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine Russian Fighter Aircraft Arrive in Syria 21 September 2015, Stratfor
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 22 September 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Schmitt, Eric; MacFarquhar, Neil (21 September 2015). "Russia Expands Fleet in Syria With Jets That Can Attack Targets on Ground". New York Times. Archived from the original on 24 April 2019. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
- "Russian Fighter Aircraft Arrive in Syria". Stratfor. Archived from the original on 19 October 2017. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
- "New Satellite Image unveils an impressive line-up of 12 Russian Su-25 Frogfoot attack jets in Syria!". The Aviationist. Archived from the original on 1 October 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
- "Russian jets in Syria mean no-fly zone is 'out of the question', warn experts". The Daily Telegraph. 22 September 2015. Archived from the original on 26 September 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
- Schmitt, Eric; Gordon, Michael R. (14 Sep 2015). "Russian Moves in Syria Widen Role in Mideast Archived 24 April 2019 at the Wayback Machine" The New York Times
- Vosman, Dylan. "In Syria spotted Russian BM-30 heavy multiple rocket launcher". Archived from the original on 30 September 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
- Walker, Shaun. "Russian parliament grants Vladimir Putin right to deploy military in Syria". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 30 September 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
- "Совет Федерации разрешил использовать ВС России за рубежом". РИА Новости. Archived from the original on 1 October 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
- "Russia begins air strikes in Syria". ABC News. Archived from the original on 30 September 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
- تلبيسة اللحظات الاولى من الغارات من الطيران الروسي واستخراج الشهداء والجرحى من تحت الانقاض – YouTube. YouTube. 30 September 2015. Archived from the original on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
- Walker, Shaun. "Russia launches first airstrikes against targets in Syria". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 30 September 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
- "U.S. official: Russia launches first Syria airstrike". USA Today. 30 September 2015. Archived from the original on 2 October 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
- "Russia Confirms Carrying Out Airstrikes in Syria". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 1 October 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
- "France claims Russian jets have struck rebel, not IS forces in Homs". euronews. Archived from the original on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
- Минобороны назвало численность авиагруппы в Сирии Archived 24 April 2019 at the Wayback Machine Lenta.ru, 1 October 2015.
- ‘Russian Air Force in Syria deploying over 50 planes & choppers – Defense Ministry’ Archived 24 April 2019 at the Wayback Machine. Rt.com, 1 October 2015. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
- "U.S. sees bearable costs, key goals met for Russia in Syria so far". Reuters. 28 December 2015. Archived from the original on 15 April 2019. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
- "Archived copy" Александр Кинщак: Говорить о наличии скрытых планов обеспечить долгосрочное военное присутствие РФ в Сирии неуместно (in Russian). Interfax. 8 February 2016. Archived from the original on 9 February 2016. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
Однако с учетом того, что финансовые возможности Дамаска в условиях развязанной террористами войны на истощение, общей деградации экономики и западных санкций значительно уменьшились, часть поставок осуществляется безвозмездно либо на льготных условиях.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Tsvetkova, Maria (21 December 2017). Heritage, Timothy (ed.). "Dying for a paycheck: the Russian civilians fighting in Syria". Reuters. Archived from the original on 21 December 2017. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
- Российские наемники в боях за Пальмиру Archived 24 April 2019 at the Wayback Machine Gazeta.ru, 24 March 2016.
- "How Russia allowed homegrown radicals to go and fight in Syria". Reuters. 13 May 2016. Archived from the original on 9 February 2018. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
- "Ex-Soviet exiles give Islamic State violence a Russian accent". Reuters. 4 July 2016. Archived from the original on 9 October 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
- 'Your son has become a martyr': the Russian fighters from Dagestan rising up the ranks of Islamic State Archived 15 April 2019 at the Wayback Machine The Telegraph, 30 July 2017.
- "Russia's Lavrov says Washington declines deeper military talks on Syria". NEWSru. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
- "US refuses to receive PM Medvedev's delegation to coordinate anti-terrorist actions in Syria". RT English. Archived from the original on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
- ""Это обидно": Лавров сообщил, что США отказались принять делегацию РФ для обсуждения сирийского кризиса". NEWSru. Archived from the original on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
- "Britain has frozen us out, says Russian envoy". The Times. 26 October 2015. Archived from the original on 28 October 2015. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
- Российский посол в Лондоне обвинил Британию в замораживании дипломатических контактов с РФ Archived 24 April 2019 at the Wayback Machine NEWSru, 26 October 2015.
- "Assad Makes Unannounced Trip to Moscow to Discuss Syria With Putin". The New York Times. 21 October 2015. Archived from the original on 26 October 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
- "Meeting with President of Syria Bashar Assad". President of Russia. 21 October 2015. Archived from the original on 21 October 2015. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
- Barry, Ellen (31 May 2012). "Russian Church Is a Strong Voice Opposing Intervention in Syria". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
- "Church Says Russia Fighting 'Holy Battle' in Syria". Newsmax. 30 September 2015. Archived from the original on 3 November 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
- В Кремле не поняли идею муфтия о присоединении Израиля и Сирии к России Archived 24 April 2019 at the Wayback Machine Lenta.ru, 25 November 2015.
- "Патриарх Кирилл поддержал военную операцию России в Сирии". Interfax. 7 January 2016. Archived from the original on 9 January 2016. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
- "Патриарх Кирилл: военные действия РФ в Сирии – это и есть защита Отечества". Archived from the original on 10 January 2016. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
- "Рождественское интервью Святейшего Патриарха Кирилла телеканалу "Россия" / Патриарх / Патриархия.ru". Archived from the original on 14 January 2016. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
- "Fewer Than Half of Russians Support Syria Campaign, Poll Says". The Moscow Times. 6 May 2019. Archived from the original on 8 May 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
- "Russia Repeats Western Mistakes in Arab Spring". Human Rights Watch. 23 January 2012. Archived from the original on 6 October 2015. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
- "Russia: Selective Use of Syria Findings". Human Rights Watch. 23 March 2012. Archived from the original on 7 June 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
- Fisk, Robert (4 October 2015). "Syria's 'moderates' have disappeared ... and there are no good guys". The Independent. Archived from the original on 8 October 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
- "U.S. Weaponry Is Turning Syria into Proxy War With Russia". The New York Times. 12 October 2015. Archived from the original on 13 October 2015. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
- In Syrië dreigt nu een proxy-oorlog: Rusland vs Amerika VS leveren extra wapens aan rebellen die vechten tegen Assad, lees: Moskou. Terug naar jaren 80 in Afghanistan. Archived 3 February 2016 at the Wayback Machine NRC Handelsblad, 14 October 2015 ("In Syria, a proxy-war now is looming").
- Klippenstein, Ken (20 April 2016). "Exclusive Interview: Seymour Hersh Dishes on Saudi Oil Money Bribes and the Killing of Osama Bin Laden". Archived from the original on 2 May 2016. Retrieved 4 May 2016 – via AlterNet.
- "US, allies ask Russia to halt strikes outside IS areas in Syria". REUTERS. Archived from the original on 4 October 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- Gordon, Michael R. (27 September 2015). "Russia Surprises U.S. With Accord on Battling ISIS". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 9 July 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
- "Cameron condemns Russia's military action in Syria as 'terrible mistake' – video". The Guardian. 4 October 2015. Archived from the original on 18 January 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
- Carey, Glen. "U.S. Warns Syrian Forces Against Chemical Weapons in Idlib Fight". www.bloomberg.com. Archived from the original on 8 June 2019. Retrieved 8 June 2019.
- Responsibility to protect... itself? Russia’s strategy towards the crisis in Syria, FIIA Briefing Paper 131 (2013), The Finnish Institute of International Affairs