Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump's controversial move to withdraw American troops from Syria, saying it's "the right decision," the New York Times reported.
Trump announced Wednesday that he's pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria and that the Islamic State had been defeated there — even though the State Department only a day earlier said the fight against ISIS wasn't over. Some Republican senators criticized Trump's decision, including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who called Trump's move "a huge Obama-like mistake" that would endanger Kurdish allies. Experts told NBC News the troop withdrawal would be called a victory in Iran and Russia.
'Donald's right, and I agree with him'
Putin on Thursday said he generally agreed with Trump that ISIS had been defeated in Syria, the Times reported: "Donald's right, and I agree with him."
But Putin also was skeptical that U.S. forces actually would withdraw, the paper added.
"We don't see any signs yet of the withdrawal of U.S. troops," he said, the Times noted. "How long has the United States been in Afghanistan? Seventeen years? And almost every year they say they're pulling out their troops."
Putin also said Trump's troop-withdrawal announcement is the correct move because American forces are in the country illegally and were never invited by the Syrian government while Russian troops were, the paper reported.
More from the Times:
The United States had backed opponents of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, though the approximately 2,000 American troops in the country have mostly avoided direct combat with the Russian-backed Syrian Army and its proxies. In February, American soldiers repelled an attack on their position by forces that included Russian citizens working for a Russian security contracting company.
A U.S. official told Reuters the withdrawal was expected to take place over a period of 60 to 100 days.