Us special representative for Syria James Jeffrey noted that Russia might be ready to compromise on Syria in the absence of a direct military victory.
Jeffrey and other American diplomats specializing in the Middle East held a press conference in Washington.
According to Jeffrey, the impression that Russia is ready to compromise arose about a year ago, when Secretary of state Mike Pompeo went to Sochi to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin, and the American side presented a plan for a step-by-step settlement of the Syrian conflict.
“However, soon after that, Russia seems to have firmly embarked on the path of a military solution,” Jeffrey explained. – This led to failure from the Syrian forces in Idlib, where there is now a truce that seems to be holding. Perhaps Russia would be more willing now – we see indications in the Russian media and some of Russia’s actions that it has become more flexible in its approach to the issue of the constitutional Committee. Perhaps they are ready to discuss with us again how to resolve this conflict in the absence of a military victory because, at this stage, it is clear to Russia that there will be no military victory in Syria in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, the Syrian economy is collapsing, and diplomatic isolation continues.”
The particular representative notes that two new factors complicate Russia’s life.
“First, Iran was not only ready to use forces to strengthen the Syrian regime, but also began to use long-range weapons systems, high-precision missiles – some for its forces in Syria, some for transfer to Hezbollah, which is a serious threat to Israel’s security, and Israel reacted in different ways,” notes Jeffrey. – This has complicated Russia’s calculations. They did not expect that the Syrians would allow Iran to take advantage of the situation in this way.”
Secondly, according to Jeffrey, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad faced severe difficulties in regaining control over the entire territory of Syria. For various reasons, American, Turkish, and Israeli forces entered the country.
“This complicates the situation for both Russia and Assad,” says Jeffrey. – And Assad does nothing to help Russia present the regime in a more favorable light. As we have seen in recent weeks, it is condemned by the UN Secretary-General himself for refusing to allow humanitarian supplies to cross the border, for deliberate attacks on supposedly sacred humanitarian sites, such as hospitals in Idlib, and the use of chemical weapons in 2017.”
“As I said, we see that Russia is dissatisfied with Assad, and they have started to show it so openly relatively recently,” notes Jeffrey, suggesting that the reason for the discontent is Assad’s refusal to give in.
The diplomat denies that Washington’s goal is to drive Russia out of Syria.
“This has never been our goal,” he emphasizes. “Russia has been there for 30 years. It has a long-term relationship with Syria. We do not believe that this is a normal situation for the region or even for Russia itself. But this is not our policy. Our policy at the moment is to restore the situation at the time of 2011, before the start of the conflict, and this will eventually lead to the fact that all third – party military forces that entered the country will leave it.”