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June 7, 2018 8:50 am

No Withdrawal of Russian Forces From Syria, Putin Tells National TV Audience

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Russian President Vladimir Putin in the studio at a nationwide TV phone-in. Photo: Reuters/Mikhail Klimentyev.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Moscow was not planning to withdraw from Syria for now, adding that the military would stay there for as long as it was in Russia’s interest.

“We are not yet planning a withdrawal of these military forces,” Putin told a televised phone-in session.

Putin also said there was no need for any major military operations in Syria involving Russia’s armed forces and that Russia could leave the country quickly if necessary.

Along with Iran, Russia has been the main backer of Syrian President Bashar al- Assad’s regime.

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In the same broadcast, Putin took the opportunity to warn neighboring Ukraine against any military action targeting Russian-backed rebels during the FIFA World Cup, which begins in Russia next week.

“I hope that there won’t be any provocations but, if it happens, I think it would have very serious consequences for Ukrainian statehood in general,” Putin said.

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