By using Syria as the ultimate battlefield to test new weapons and tactics.
Russia is willing to keep its forces in Syria despite the potential losses incurred because the Kremlin believes that the benefits outweigh the costs. From the Russian perspective, Moscow’s campaign in Syria affords the Kremlin invaluable combat experience that is helping it to refine the capabilities of its military forces.
“The use of our armed forces in combat conditions is a unique experience and a unique tool to improve our armed forces,” Russian president Vladimir Putin said during a televised public question and answer session on June 7. “No exercises can compare with actually using the armed forces in combat conditions.”
Gaining Combat Experience
In the Kremlin’s view, one of the most important reasons for Russia to continue its campaign in Syria is to further refine its newly developed precision-guided strike capability. “Syria is not a shooting range for Russian weapons, but we are still using them there, our new weapons,” Putin said. “This has led to the improvement of modern strike systems, including missile systems. It is one thing to have them, and quite another thing to see how they fare in combat conditions.”
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Putin noted that Syria has also proven to be important for Russia’s defense industry—which has gained valuable insights into how the Kremlin’s forces use their hardware in combat. “When we started to use these modern weapons, including missiles, whole teams from our defense industry companies went to Syria, and worked there on-site—it is extremely important for us—to finalize them and figure out what we can count on when using them in combat conditions,” Putin said.
Russia’s Syrian Proving Ground