NEW DELHI, March 16. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has achieved in five months what US President Barack Obama has not in five years - impose a ceasefire and bring the warring factions in Syria to the negotiating table, The Hindustan Times said on Wednesday.
"Mr Obama’s support to these initiatives was crucial, but it’s clear that in Syria the US has followed Russia’s lead," the newspaper said. "His [Putin’s] surprise announcement [on withdrawing Russian forces from Syria], in keeping with his style, is a departure from conventional diplomacy, but is sure to bring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has expressed ambitions to retake Syrian territory using force, to the negotiating table," it added.
"While Washington has been pusillanimous of ground intervention, Moscow went ahead, took the lead and is today determining the narrative in Syria," the newspaper noted.
The Kremlin press service released a statement on Monday evening that the Russian and Syrian presidents, Vladimir Putin and Bashar Assad, agreed to start withdrawing the main part of the Russian aviation task force from Syria because the Russian Aerospace Forces had fulfilled the fundamental tasks which had been assigned to them. Russia’s Aerospace Forces started delivering strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist groups (both banned in Russia) on September 30, 2015.
Russia will leave an air flight control center in the Syrian territory that will monitor the observation of the Syrian ceasefire, the Kremlin said. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu ordered starting the Russian troops’ withdrawal as of March 15. Earlier today Russian Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pankov said that Russian forces will continue delivering airstrikes as terrorists in Syria.
The ceasefire between government forces and armed opposition took effect in Syria at 00:00 Damascus Time on February 27. An hour before the agreement entered into force, UN Security Council adopted a resolution in support of cessation of hostilities in Syria. The inter-Syrian talks resumed in Geneva on March 9.