Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday reiterated that Russian troops will not be deployed for ground operations in war-torn Syria even as he held talks with Saudi Arabia’s Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman, a son of the Saudi king.
Russia is not going to do this no matter what happens, and “our Syrian friends know about it” said Putin.
Moscow notified the US and other partners of its intentions and plans in Syria beforehand, the Russian President claimed.
Meanwhile, in a crucial meeting with Sheikh Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of a Formula 1 race in Sochi on Sunday, Putin sought to address Saudi concerns about Russian airstrikes in Syria.
“The sides confirmed that Saudi Arabia and Russia have similar goals concerning Syria,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov following the talks. “First of all, they are to prevent a terrorist caliphate from getting the upper hand in Syria.”
The second goal that Moscow shares with Riyadh is “ensuring the triumph of national reconciliation in Syria so that all Syrians, regardless of their nationality or religion, will feel masters of their land,” he said.
The meeting was also attended by the foreign ministers of both states.
The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a bitter foe of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
Russian Air Force carried out 64 sorties in Syria from Saturday to Sunday, destroying a total of 63 IS targets, including the field headquarters of the terrorist group near the northwestern Syrian village of Slama, the Russian Defense Ministry said Sunday.
The Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, however, raised concerns about Russian airstrike targets during the meeting with Putin on Sunday.
Lavrov’s Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir also asserted that differences remained between Moscow and Riyadh about the future of Syrian President Assad.
Saudi Arabia has stated that it wants Assad to step down.
Moscow, on the other hand, has praised the Assad government for fighting a lonely and “valiant” battle against Islamic State extremists.
On September 30, Russia began airstrikes against positions of the IS and other terror groups in Syria, a move that has been criticized by the US to be mainly aiming at striking Syria’s anti-government rebels.
Russia-US to hold 2nd round of talks on Syria airstrikes
Russian President Vladimir Putin in an informal chat with his US counterpart Barack Obama after formal talks in New York on 28 September 2015 .
Russia and the United States are expected to hold military-to-military talks this weekend on Syria, where both countries have been conducting parallel but uncoordinated airstrikes against Islamic State (IS) militants, the Pentagon said.
Press secretary Peter Cook said the Russia-US talks are “likely to take place as soon as this weekend”.
The Russian and US military have agreed in principle with the proposals on coordinating military flights, the Russian Defense Ministry said this week.
Moscow launched its military operation against Islamic State and other terrorist groups at the request of the Syrian government on September 30 and has already targeted a number of IS infrastructure units, hitting command centers, ammunition depots and explosive production sites, among others military facilities.
Moscow has stepped up air strikes against Islamic State targets across Syria with Russian jets carrying out 67 sorties against IS targets in the past twenty four hours, Russian Air Force chief Lieutenant General Igor Makushev was quoted by state media .
The Russian Defence Ministry said on Friday its planes had struck the headquarters of the Liwa al-Haqq militant group in Syria, killing 200 insurgents, including two Islamic State field commanders, state news agency Sputnik reported.
In separate attacks in the Aleppo region, the ministry said its planes had killed a further 100 insurgents.
Meanwhile, the United States is dropping a $500 million Pentagon program to train Syrian rebels fighting the administration of President Bashar al-Assad.