Russian army chief Nikolai Makarov said Tuesday that his country had no intention of “running away” or ending its military presence in Syria.
“All the plans that we have in place are working and no one is running away from there,” Makarov told reporters.
Unconfirmed reports are widespread in the Russian press regarding the military’s winding down of operations at the Tartus naval base in western Syria, leased under an agreement signed in 1971.
Russia still supplies the Bashar Assad government with weapons and supplies under contracts signed prior to the bloody crackdown against the Syrian opposition, which began some 17 months ago.
Western powers, and in particular the United States, have been highly critical of Russia’s support of the Syrian government. President Vladimir Putin’s administration has consistently rejected calls for Assad’s ouster, maintaining that it is up to the Syrian people to determine their own future.