“Turkey used to violate Syrian airspace all the time,” Putin told reporters on December 17. “Let them try and fly there now.” Russia’s most advanced air-defense system is covering the whole country, he said.
Concerning the cost of the Russian expeditionary force, he said, “We haven’t started a war. We are conducting specific operations with the use of our Aerospace Forces, Space Forces, air-defense forces, and reconnaissance. We simply re-directed part of the funding that we planned to spend on training and military exercises to our Aerospace Forces in Syria. Something needs to be added there, but this absolutely doesn’t have any great significance for the budget.”
“We conduct large-scale exercises. Just take the Center or Vostok-2015 exercises alone – thousands of people engaged, thousands relocated from one theater to another, hundreds of aircraft, and so on, and so on. We have simply re-allotted part of this funding there, for conducting the operation in Syria,” he said. “You can’t think of a better exercise. In principle, we can practice there for quite a long time without significant detriment to our budget,” Putin said.
Putin said he was not sure that Russian needed a permanent airbase in Syria, but he made clear that the Russian commitment is for as long as it takes to end the civil war.