Putin Says Syria Campaign Cost $480 Million

Putin speaks in Kremlin
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during an awarding ceremony for soldiers returning from Syria, at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 17, 2016. Alexei Nikolsky/Sputnik/Kremlin/Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin has confirmed that five Russian servicemen had died during the course of the campaign in Syria and 33 billion roubles ($480 million) were spent by the Ministry of Defence on the operation itself.

The Russian leader spoke to government ministers, parliamentary and state officials in an official address after pulling out the majority of Russian forces from Syria earlier this week.

Speaking about the future of Russia's deployments in Syria Putin said they would possess high capabilities such as long and close range air defences.

"All partners are warned and they know that our air defence systems will be used against any targets which we consider a threat to Russian servicemen," Putin said, before re-iterating: "any targets."

"Of course if necessary, literally within a few hours, Russia can build up its contingent in the region to a size proportionate to the situation developing there and use the entire arsenal of capabilities at our disposal," Putin added.

Among those killed was a servicemen named Fyodor. A, whom Reuters confirmed is special forces member Fyodor Zhuravlyov, after a family friend verified that Zhuravlyov's widow stood among the widows of the other men at the ceremony.

Russia has always denied ever sending ground troops to Syria and insisted that any deployments who are not airmen in Syria are there in the capacity of advisors to the Syrian government. The Kremlin did not make public how Zhuravlyov died.

Not all of the soldiers were reported killed as the first Russian casualty of the Syrian campaign was a young army soldier Vadim Kostenko, who committed suicide in October.