Russia Denies Military Plan to Stay in Syria Forever

Russia Denies Military Plan to Stay in Syria ForeverRussia Denies Military Plan to Stay in Syria Forever

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview that Moscow does not plan to maintain its military presence in Syria indefinitely.

In an interview with Time magazine, Medvedev was asked if Russia would help its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in his stated aim of restoring his control over all of Syria.

“We have no plans ... for such a never-ending presence in Syria. We are there pursuing an entirely limited, concrete objective,” Medvedev said, according to a transcript of the interview released by the government, according to Reuters.

He has declared himself “cautiously optimistic” about a solution to the conflict in Syria.

Military cooperation remains critical, he said, otherwise people will continue to die and refugees to flee to Europe.

Medvedev said US Secretary of State John Kerry had met with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov and leaders of different countries in the Munich Security Conference to discuss solutions to the Syrian crisis.

“They agreed on what should be done in the short run,” Medvedev told Euronews. “For this reason, I’m cautiously optimistic about the prospects for cooperation on this issue.”

Medvedev said such a close exchange was imperative, otherwise there would be no end to the war in Syria, people would keep dying and the massive influx of refugees to Europe would continue, DPA reported.

In his conversation with Euronews, Medvedev said Russia’s foremost interest in intervening in Syria was to protect its national interests.

“There are many fighters in Syria who can go to Russia in any time and commit terrorist attacks there. There are thousands of them in Syria,” he said.

The Russian prime minister also emphasized that his country had received a request from the Syrian president to help end the terror conflict and that this gave Moscow a legal basis to intervene.

  “Full-Fledged War”

Medvedev also criticized US Secretary of State John Kerry for saying his country would go ahead with a ground operation even if Russia and Iran refused to cooperate.

“These are futile words; he should not have said that for a simple reason: If all he wants is a protracted war, he can carry out ground operations and anything else. But don’t try to frighten anyone,” Medvedev said, adding that no one was interested in a new war and “a ground operation is a full-fledged, long war.”

The Russian premier emphasized the need for a common solution to the problems in Syria and said Russia, the EU and the US needed to “focus on facilitating the launch” of Syria’s peace process.

Medvedev raised hackles during the Munich Security Conference over the weekend, when he said the world had “slid into a new period of Cold War”.

“Our positions differ, but they do not differ as much as 40 years ago when a wall was standing in Europe,” he said in Munich on Saturday.

Last week, Medvedev said there was a danger of the war in Syria becoming a “permanent war” in an interview with the German newspaper “Handelsblatt.”