Meeting with Defence Ministry heads on Russia’s operations in Syria 2015-11-20 17:40:00 Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region Vladimir Putin held a meeting with the Defence Ministry’s heads on the Russian Aerospace Forces’ operation in Syria. Mr Putin listened via videoconference to reports from Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and the commanders of units taking part in the operation. * * * President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Shoigu, comrades, good afternoon, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu: Good afternoon, Mr President. Comrade Commander-in-Chief, I propose that we hear first from the commanders of the units taking part in this operation, as well as from the head of the aviation group in Syria, and then I will report personally on the main results of these last four days’ operations. Vladimir Putin: Good, let’s start work. Go ahead. Sergei Shoigu: Lieutenant Colonel Kapsha, Engels Air Base. Vladimir Putin: Go ahead. Air Squadron Commander Lieutenant Colonel Trofim Kapsha: Comrade Commander-in-Chief, This is Air Squadron Commander Lieutenant Colonel Kapsha reporting. In accordance with your decision of November 17, our Tu-95MS and Tu-160 strategic bombers, based at Engels Air Base, have carried out their mission to strike Islamic State targets in Syria. From two to five sorties are made each day, and the strategic bombers have spent a total of more than 200 hours in the air. Today, two Tu-160 bombers took off from Olenya Air Base, refuelled in mid-air, flew 9,500 kilometres, and launched strikes using precision-guided cruise missiles against terrorist targets from the Mediterranean Sea area. Their route crossed the Barents and Norwegian seas and the Strait of Gibraltar. After carrying out the strikes, the strategic bombers returned to their base. Their total flight time was 16 hours and 20 minutes. Mr President, the well-coordinated work by the Tu-160 and Tu-195MS crews, aviation engineers and technicians, and ground services enabled us to carry out the set missions. We are ready for new missions from the commanders. This ends my report. Vladimir Putin: Thank you. Please go ahead, Mr Alesenko. Guards Aviation Group Commander Colonel Vladimir Alesenko: Comrade Commander-in-Chief, This is Guards Aviation Group Commander Colonel Vladimir Alesenko reporting. Over these last four days, operating from Mozdok Air Base, our reinforced squadron of Tu-22M3 strategic bombers has carried out group air strikes against Islamic State terrorist organisation targets in the provinces of Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa. The targets are more than 2,000 kilometres from the air base. Each combat flight lasts more than five hours. The crews make two flights a day, one of which is a night flight. The strikes have destroyed the terrorists’ forces and equipment in the places where they are concentrated, command centres and munitions and arms depots, workshops manufacturing arms and munitions, and infrastructure sites. The aviation group has made 72 flights and launched strikes against 42 targets. Mr President, the aviation group has carried out its set missions. Now, having fulfilled their combat missions, the 12 Tu-22M3 strategic bombers have returned to their base, where they are being prepared for the next tasks. This ends my report. Vladimir Putin: Thank you. Let’s move on to the Caspian Flotilla. Deputy Commander of the Caspian Flotilla, Captain First Rank Sergei Yekimov: Comrade Commander-in-Chief, This is Deputy Commander of the Caspian Flotilla, Captain First Rank Sergei Yekimov reporting. In accordance with the set mission, the Caspian Flotilla’s surface action group, composed of the missile-carrier Daghestan and small gunnery ships Uglich, Grad Sviyazhsk and Veliky Ustyug carried out rapid deployment in the designated combat zone and have carried out strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria using sea-based long-range Kalibr cruise missiles. All 18 planned launches were successful. We will report on the target destruction results once we have received the objective monitoring data. The personnel are in excellent spirits. The ships’ arms and technical equipment are in good condition. Mr President, the naval group is ready for its next tasks. This ends my report. Vladimir Putin: Thank you. Please, a word on the work directly in the Syrian Arab Republic itself. Commander of the Russian Aviation Group Major General Alexander Maksimtsev: Comrade Commander-in-Chief, This is commander of the Russian Aviation Group Major General Maksimtsev reporting. Since November 17, the aviation group has completed 294 combat flights as part of the air operations plan in the Syrian Arab Republic; we made 731 strikes on armed gangs’ facilities in the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib and in the Palmyra area. In addition, the aviation group was reinforced with eight Su-34 strike fighters and a squad of Su-27SM3 fighters that were fulfilling the task of striking facilities in the provinces of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. We are actively carrying out reconnaissance missions of all types to make sure that we hit and destroy terrorist facilities on Syrian territory. To provide target detection and monitor aviation strikes and reconnaissance, we are using modern unmanned aerial vehicles. During the major aviation strikes, we destroyed oil and gas infrastructure facilities, command centres, munitions depots, terrorist training camps, and bomb and missile production plants. This allowed us to disrupt the management and greatly undermine the terrorist organisations’ economic potential. The air operation helped intensify the offensive of the Syrian government forces in all areas, with particular success in the Aleppo region and the mountainous area in the province of Latakia. Russian strike aircraft continue to conduct massive air strikes. No personnel or aircraft losses reported. Staff morale is high. This ends my report. Vladimir Putin: Thank you. Please Mr Shoigu, could you say something in conclusion? Sergei Shoigu: Comrade Commander-in-Chief, I will report on the main results of our four days of work. In accordance with your instructions, the Armed Forces carried out the “Retaliation” operation to destroy the heads of terrorist organisations and their supporters, disorganise control and logistics systems, and destroy ISIS military and oil-and-gas infrastructure facilities. With this goal in mind, the aviation group composition doubled to 69 aircraft. 143 air missions are conducted daily. The marine group has ten ships, six of which are in the Mediterranean Sea. On November 20, the Caspian Flotilla launched 18 cruise missiles at seven targets in the Raqqa, Idlib and Aleppo provinces. All targets were hit. In total, strategic and tactical aircraft conducted 522 air missions during the air operation. We have completed the launch of 101 air- and sea-launched cruise missiles and dropped 1,400 tonnes of various bombs.. In total, 826 enemy targets have been hit. The main efforts have been focused on undermining ISIS’s financial and economic foundation. Fifteen oil storage and processing facilities, as well as 525 tankers, have been hit. We have blocked supply of 60,000 tonnes of oil per day to the black market, and the terrorists are losing $1.5 million daily. Meanwhile, we are continuing elimination of terrorist groups and their leaders. We have destroyed 23 militant training bases, 19 arms and explosives production plants, 47 warehouses with ammunition and material supplies, and other facilities. This allows for the successful operation of Syrian government troops in the areas of Aleppo, Idlib and the mountainous parts of Latakia, as well as Palmyra. According to objective control data, the number of terrorists arriving in Syria has decreased and the number of militants fleeing war zones in the north and southwest has increased. The terrorist groups have suffered significant losses. As a result of cruise missile strikes, one facility in the Deir ez-Zor region alone resulted in the elimination of over 600 militants. Overall, during the air campaign, cruise missile strikes were made from the waters of the Mediterranean and Caspian seas at a distance of up to 1,500 kilometres. Aviation was used from air bases in Russia and Syria. Twenty-nine long-range and bomber aircraft made strikes from the Caspian Sea. The distance of Tu-160 planes in combat missions from the Mediterranean Sea was over 13,000 kilometres. Comrade Commander-in-Chief, in accordance with your instructions, we have begun organising cooperation with France’s armed forces. All the goals you set have been fulfilled. The Armed Forces have moved into the next phase of operations. This ends my report. Vladimir Putin: Comrades, You have accomplished a considerable amount of work over these last few days of combat operations. We have big teams in industry and in the country’s military organisation working to ensure you reach your set objectives. We have put into motion all the components involved in carrying out tasks of this kind. The tasks are being carried out well and with good results. I want to thank you all, but I note that this is not yet enough to cleanse Syria of terrorists and fighters and protect Russia from possible terrorist attacks. We still have much work ahead. I hope that the next stages of this operation will be carried out just as professionally, to the same quality standards, and will produce the hoped-for results. I ask the Chief of the General Staff and the Defence Minister to keep me regularly updated on your missions. Good luck to you all! Thank you.