MOSCOW, February 10./TASS/. The European Union has made big mistakes in the sphere of migration policy, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday at a briefing in response to accusations that the flow of refugees to Europe increased due to the Russian Aerospace Forces’ antiterrorism operation in Syria.
Zakharova said the EU’s migration policy is unprofessional and that Russia is not to blame for that.
"We should be aware that until order is established in Syria, until the chaos stops, until a relevant basis and prerequisites for intra-Syrian settlement are created, until terrorism is defeated not only in Syria and Iraq but also around, the flow of refugees will only be increasing," the diplomat said.
"The European colleagues should be perfectly aware of that instead of trying to seek fictitious enemies of Europe where there are none," she said.
Zakharova said people are fleeing Syria not because of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ bombings but because of the actions of the Islamic State terrorist group, banned in Russia, and the difficult humanitarian situation in the country.
"People are fleeing ISIL members rather than the Russian military," she said.
"This has been said many times, but I will repeat once again - we have no ground troops in Syria," Zakharova said. She added that "the feeling, being formed in media, that Russian troops are allegedly present there physically" is erroneous.
According to UN statistics, fighting between Syrian government troops and militants has killed over 220,000 people and displaced millions since its start in 2011. Gangs of militants making part of various armed formations, the most active of them being the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations, fight government troops.
Russia’s Aerospace Forces started delivering pinpoint strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations, which are banned in Russia, on September 30, 2015, on a request from Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The air group initially comprised over 50 aircraft and helicopters, including Sukhoi Su-24M, Su-25SM and state-of-the-art Su-34 aircraft. They were deployed to the Khmeimim airbase in the province of Latakia.
On October 7, 2015, four missile ships of the Russian Navy’s Caspian Flotilla fired 26 Kalibr cruise missiles (NATO codename Sizzler) at militants’ facilities in Syria. On October 8, the Syrian army passed to a large-scale offensive.
In mid-November 2015, Russia increased the number of aircraft taking part in the operation in Syria to 69 and involved strategic bombers in strikes at militants.
Targets of the Russian aircraft include terrorists’ gasoline tankers and oil refineries.
Russia’s aircraft have made thousands of sorties since the start of the operation in Syria.