On 14 March 2016, after five and a half months since the start of the military operation in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the mission which he set for the Russian military in Syria “has been accomplished” and he ordered the withdrawal of the “main part” of the Russian forces from Syria. He told a pullout would start next day, on 15 March. The move was announced on the day when peace talks on Syria resumed in Geneva. “The effective work of our military created the conditions for the start of the peace process,” Putin said. And added that he now ordered an intensification of Russia’s diplomatic efforts to achieve a peace deal to end the five year long civil war in Syria.
Russian leader, however, did not give a deadline for the completion of the withdrawal. He also said that both Russian military bases in Syria (naval base in Tartus and airbase in Khmeimim) will continue to operate in “routine mode”, as the Russian servicemen there will be engaged in monitoring the ceasefire regime. According to academic F.A. Gerges, Russian military intervention, with its new fighter jets, military advisers and advanced weapons, became a game-changer in the Syrian Civil War. It stopped the bleeding of the Syrian army and allowed it to shift from defence to offence, eventually achieving significant gains in the north, south, Damascus suburbs and even the rebel stronghold of Aleppo.