In a move that supposedly has Assad’s approval, Russian troops will be pulled back to a seaport and airbase in the Syrian province of Latakia. This effectively removes them from the war, while keeping the troops available should they be needed yet again.
To understand this move, it is necessary to first understand that Russia never entered the war as part of the United States led coalition. Rather, Putin sent troops to Syria in support of President Assad, who Russia supports as an ally and client state. In contrast, President Obama severely dislikes Assad and would like nothing more than to see him out of office. His efforts in the war have not been to support Assad, but rather to contain terrorist elements in the region.