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Lawmakers authorize use of Russian military force for anti-IS airstrikes in Syria

September 30, 2015, 10:54 UTC+3
The upper house of Russia's parliament has authorized the Russian president to use the country’s Armed Forces in Syria
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© ITAR-TASS/Alexey Pantsikov

MOSCOW, September 30. /TASS/. The Federation Council has unanimously granted permission to the Russian president to use the nation’s military force in Syria, Kremlin chief of staff Sergey Ivanov told journalists on Wednesday.

"The Federation Council unanimously supported the president’s request - 162 votes in favor [of granting permission]," Ivanov said.

Russia will use only its Air Force in Syria against the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group upon the request of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Ivanov said, stressing that no ground troops will be sent.

"The operation’s military goal is exclusively air support of the Syrian armed forces in their fight against the IS," he said. This operation by the Russian Air Force is limited in time and the types of the used weapons are not disclosed, Ivanov added.

"The use of armed forces on the theater of military operations is ruled out," he said.

President Vladimir Putin has earlier requested the upper house of parliament to authorize the use of Russia’s armed forces outside the country "based on the generally recognised international law norms and principles," the Kremlin press service said.

Russia strictly complies with international law

Such operations and airstrikes can be conducted either upon the UN Security Council’s decision or the request from the government of a state. Baghdad has earlier sent the respective request to the international coalition.

According to Ivanov, Syria’s Assad "turned to [Russia’s] leadership, requesting military assistance". He stressed that "it will be an operation of the Russian Air Force only."

Ivanov stressed that there is "a principal difference" in the approach of Russia and its Western partners. "They do not comply with the international law, while we do so."

Anti-IS fight aimed at ensuring Russia's national security

The Kremlin chief of staff has stressed that Russia’s participation in the operation against the terrorists comes mainly in an effort to ensure national security and is not about "attaining foreign policy objectives or satisfying some ambitions."

Ivanov noted that the number of Russian and CIS nationals in the ranks of the Islamic State terrorist group has been on the rise. "There are thousands of them, some of whom have returned to Russia. It does not take a clairvoyant to realize that such people will keep on coming back to Russia."

"Thus, we should pre-empt them and act while they are far away, rather than put off dealing with the problem for later, after they have gotten back to Russia," Ivanov added.

Russia’s participation in operation discussed on UN General Assembly’s sidelines

President Vladimir Putin told reporters on Monday after his visit to New York that the issue of carrying out anti-terrorist operations in Iraq and Syria was discussed during his contacts with the other leaders. He stressed that in any case Russia would act in full compliance with the international law.

Putin said that any involvement of Russia’s troops in the ground operations is out of question. The effort on the fight against terrorism should be in parallel with the political process in Syria, he said.

The Russian leader noted that while supporting the country’s authorities in the anti-terror fight, Moscow would insist on carrying out political reforms simultaneously.

Media reports said on Tuesday that US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter has ordered his subordinates to open a communications line with Russia on Syria.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said this was done in line with the agreement reached on Monday at the meeting of US President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin in New York. The consultations will allow preventing possible conflicts in Syria between the Russian military and the anti-terrorist coalition led by the United States, he said.

Right for using Russia’s military force abroad

Under Russia’s Constitution, the upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, is responsible for deciding on the possibility of using Russia’s armed forces outside the country.

Last time, the Federation Council used this right on March 1, 2014 when it gave permission to the president to use Russia’s forces on the territory of Ukraine until the normalization of the situation there.

On June 25, 2014 the upper house canceled the respective resolution upon the request of President Putin. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the decision came amid the launch of trilateral talks on resolving the situation in eastern Ukraine.

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