Putin, who recalled some of Russia's warplanes from Syria earlier this week, said Moscow will keep enough forces there to continue the fight against the Islamic State group, the Nusra Front and other extremist organizations.

It will also continue to boost the Syrian military with weapons, training and operational guidance.

In an apparent warning to Turkey, Saudi Arabia and others who had talked about the possibility of sending troops into Syria, Putin also emphasized that the Russian military will keep all its air defence missile systems, including the powerful S-400s, at its air base in Syria. It will stand ready to use them "against any targets that we would consider a threat to our servicemen," he said.
Putin's statements underlined his intention to maintain a strong military presence in Syria to consolidate the military and political gains achieved in Russia's 5 and a half month air campaign.

Russian warplanes have conducted more than 9,000 combat missions since the air campaign began on September 30, allowing the Syrian army "to gain strategic initiative," Putin said.

He said the action in Syria cost the military about about USD 480 million, adding that the Defence Ministry already had those funds earmarked for maneuvers and used them instead to finance the Syrian campaign.

Putin said that a Russian- and US-brokered cease-fire that began on February 27 has now allowed Russia to reduce its military presence in Syria.

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