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In Syria, Russia’s massive second could have arrived


Russia is already by far the strongest overseas energy working in Syria, and President Vladimir Putin has allied himself with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, throwing the total weight of the Russian army behind the Syrian Military.

Now, a deliberate Turkish operation to “clear” Kurdish forces from the Northeastern Syrian border zone might give Putin an opportunity to broaden Russian affect — to the alarrm of US hawks.

Russia’s fundamental base in Syria is the airfield at Hmeimin on the Mediterranean coast, near town of Latakia. It is extra than simply an airbase: A lot of Russia’s senior army personnel operating the Syria marketing campaign are additionally stationed there. The bottom additionally homes the Russian military’s deconfliction heart, which communicated with the US-led coalition to maintain the 2 sides’ warplanes out of every others’ methods.

Additional south, Syria’s port of Tartus holds Moscow’s fundamental naval base, and its solely base within the Mediterranean Sea. Russian submarines and warships geared up with cruise missiles typically fired at ISIS and anti-Assad insurgent teams when fight in Syria was nonetheless intense. On the peak of the Syrian battle, Russia additionally had a considerable presence of floor forces within the nation. It seems to have withdrawn a few of these troops as fight operations wound down.

And on high of its army presence in Syria, Moscow can be making financial strikes in Syria. Russian oil and fuel companies have gained contracts for the exploitation of hydrocarbons in Japanese Syria.

How Russia sees the US withdrawal

Russia desires the US to go away Syria, and has repeatedly acknowledged that it believes the US is in Syria illegally.

On Wednesday, Russian overseas minister Sergey Lavrov stated he nonetheless didn’t imagine that Trump would observe by on his announcement to withdraw US forces. “Donald Trump has indeed stated many times that he will withdraw his troops from Syria and from other countries. Then actual doers put brakes on this. I do not exclude that we are now observing something similar,” Lavrov stated at an occasion within the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan.

Russia helps the disputed Syrian authorities, whereas Turkey backs one in every of Syria’s fundamental insurgent teams. Although Russia and Turkey help opposing sides within the Syrian civil struggle, Russia would definitely welcome a full US withdrawal from Syria as a result of it could give Moscow much more leverage — not simply in shaping Syria’s future, however throughout your complete Center.

Would Russia help a Turkish invasion?

Turkey plans to enter Syria and drive again Kurdish fighters from a giant swathe of land close to the border. Whereas Turkey has develop into an ever extra vital accomplice for Russia each in Syria and on the worldwide political stage, Russia doesn’t seem to endorse Turkey’s introduced army operations.

The explanation for this straightforward: As an ally of the Assad authorities, Russia’s acknowledged objective is profitable again all of Syria’s territory from rebels and pro-US forces, and Turkey’s cross-border operation might develop into a longer-term breach of territorial sovereignty.

On Wednesday, Damascus blasted Turkey’s announcement that it desires to maneuver troops into Syria. “The aggressive behavior of the Erdogan regime clearly shows the Turkish expansionist ambitions in the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic and cannot be justified under any pretext,” an announcement from Syria’s overseas ministry stated.

However Russia can be eager to cater to its Turkish allies, and has supplied to barter with all sides for an answer. “We are in touch with both the representatives of the Kurdish side and the representatives of the government, and we are encouraging them to start a dialogue to resolve the problems of this part of Syria, including the problems of ensuring security on the Turkish-Syrian border,” International Minister Sergey Lavrov stated.

However can Russia ship?

Russia couldn’t cease Turkey from transferring into Northern Syria and ousting Kurdish forces — but it surely might doubtlessly scale back the bloodshed by mediation.

Putin spoke with Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, and the Turkish President appeared to point that it was solely a matter of when — not if — his forces would cross the Syrian border. Based on Turkey’s Anadolu information company, Erdogan instructed Putin that the army operation would contribute to peace and stability in Syria, and pave the way in which for political course of within the nation.

Nevertheless, Putin might stop a bigger massacre. The previously US-aligned Kurdish forces which the Turks try to “clear” from the realm should not towards the Syrian authorities and never towards Russia both.

In actual fact Kurdish fighters from the identical group preventing on America’s aspect towards ISIS have additionally fought on the aspect of Russia and the Syrian authorities. Throughout the Battle of Aleppo, they fought towards anti-Assad rebels. The Russians and the Syrian authorities have at all times maintained contact with the Kurds, in hopes of getting them to undergo Syrian authorities rule, and the Syrian Military maintains a presence within the Kurdish-held areas.

Now Russia’s second could have arrived. Moscow wields affect with Ankara, Damascus and the Kurds. An announcement from the Kurdish-led authorities on Wednesday appeared telling, the saying they welcomed statements by Russia’s overseas minister and hoped that Russia would play a task in de-escalating the scenario.

US considerations over Russia’s position

Critics of Trump’s resolution to withdraw from Syria have pointed particularly to Russia’s increasing affect as a priority

“A precipitous withdrawal of US forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime,” tweeted US Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell, normally a staunch Trump ally and one of the vocal critics of the pull-back.



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Frederik Pleitgen

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