Pentagon chief Ashton Carter surely picked the wrong country when he said that Russia’s contribution to the struggle against terrorism in Syria was zero, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said at a meeting with top Defense Ministry officials on Tuesday.
“Yesterday I listened to a speech by one of my foreign counterparts in a faraway country. He said that Russia’s contribution to the struggle against terrorism in Syria and in the region was equal to zero. I might have subscribed to what he said in a sense only if a) that counterpart of mine had not picked the wrong country; and b) had been more accurate in his comments.”
Earlier, Carter claimed that Russia’s contribution to the struggle against terrorism in Syria was equal to naught. He argued that Russia had done “virtually zero” to fight against terrorism and that the United States had to do that all alone.
Shoigu responded that the Russian aerospace group in Syria remained without any support from the international anti-terrorist coalition.
“We have coped with the main task that the supreme commander-in-chief had set to us last year. However hard it might have been for us, however greatly we might need support from the international coalition, which in fact has not only achieved nothing but even turned things for the worse, to our deep regret we saw no support from it. And that required us to brace all of our resources and capabilities, to dispatch a large group to Syria, including an aircraft carrier-led group and extra aerospace resources and military police as well.
Russia’s General Staff announced last week that Russia had started to cut its military contingent in Syria in compliance with a decision by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian naval task force led by the country’s sole aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is the first to leave the conflict area.
Russia launched its anti-terroir operation in Syria on September 30, 2015 at the request of Syrian President Bashar Assad. A comprehensive ceasefire was announced on the entire territory of Syria from December 30. The truce agreement was concluded by the Syrian government troops and armed opposition groupings numbering more than 60,000 fighters. Russia and Turkey are acting as the truce guarantors.