Russia will use more advanced military force against terror groups in Syria “if necessary,” President Vladimir Putin said Saturday.
His comments came a day after the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution that supports an international effort to find a political solution to the 5-year-old civil war in Syria.
Russia has supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but the United States wants him removed. The two countries, however, have found common ground in launching airstrikes against the terror group ISIS based in Syria.
Putin focused on his own military’s performance in Syria.
“We see how effectively our pilots and intelligence officers work in Syria and how effectively they coordinate their efforts,” Putin said at a Kremlin event honoring security service employees, according to the Sputnik state-run news agency.
“At that, they are diversified, and the army, navy and aviation use the most modern weapons,” Putin said.
He added: “I would like to note that these are by far not all of our capabilities. We have, by far, not used everything of what we already have. We have additional capabilities. If necessary, we will use them, too.”
Russia analyst Jill Dougherty described Putin’s comment as “tough talk” and “a little chest thumping” to a particular audience.
“He’s talking to the security agency people,” Dougherty told the Media from Moscow. “So, of course, he was going to come up with something that sounded very strong.”
Russia’s military presence in Syria already amounts to “a big operation,” she added.
“I think what he’s saying is, you know, a bit of bravado, telling them they’re doing a good job and our military is on the case and we can certainly bring in more .
Putin’s comments could also be interpreted as “a little bit of a show over the bow, I would say, to Turkey,” Dougherty said.
In November, Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Turkish-Syrian border after the Turks said they warned the aircraft about violating their airspace. One of the Russian plane’s two pilots was killed.
Moscow said its plane was over Syria when it was downed. Both countries have exchanged tough words over the incident, and Putin signed a decree authorizing punitive economic measures against Turkey.
Turkey and Western allies such as the United States have supported Syrian rebel groups seeking to overthrow the Syrian President, whom Russia has backed.