Ankara and Moscow are again facing an escalation of violence in Syria’s last rebel-held territory, a development that puts their cooperation to the test even as they support opposing sides in the eight-year war that has devastated Syria. An all-out offensive by Syrian government forces to capture Idlib in northwestern Syria from insurgents could unleash an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, for the area is home to 3 million people. Turkey, which is already hosting more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees, is facing strong pressure from Syria, Iran and Russia to deliver on its pledge to control the armed rebel factions in Idlib. But Turkey also needs Russia to rein in Syrian President Bashar Assad to prevent a massive outflow of refugees and to keep Turkish soldiers on the ground safe. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin “have an incentive to cooperate and ensure that nobody’s interests are totally trampled,” says Aaron Stein, the director of the Middle East program in American think-tank Foreign Policy Research Institute. In September, the two leaders brokered a cease-fire for Idlib in the Russian resort of Sochi, preventing a bloody onslaught, despite the fact that Russia has firmly backed Assad and Turkey supports opposition forces. Nine months later, the truce has failed. The agreement called for a 15-to-20 kilometer (9-to-12 mile) demilitarized zone free of insurgents and heavy weaponry and for two key highways crossing through Idlib to be reopened. The demilitarized zone has been breached and the highways are at the
Russian President Vladimir Putin: “It’s not clear what she was convicted of or what crime she committed. I think it’s a prime example of ‘saving face.’ They arrested her and put the girl in jail. But there was nothing on her, so in order not to look totally stupid they gave her, fixed her up, with an 18-month sentence to show that she was guilty of something.”
“Everybody was wondering why the format of the meeting between Putin and Trump, which was announced after the visit of [US National Security Adviser] John Bolton to Russia, was changed. They explained it with high politics, but the real explanation is quite simple,” the source was quoted as saying.
Pentagon chief Jim Mattis told Arab leaders on Saturday that Russia is no replacement for the United States in the Middle East following Moscow’s military intervention in Syria.
“Russia’s presence in the region cannot replace the longstanding, enduring, and transparent US commitment to the Middle East,” Mattis told a meeting in the Bahraini capital Manama.
“Only when we become convinced that there is an incoming attack on the territory of Russia, and that happens within seconds, only after that we would launch a retaliatory strike,” Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasized on Thursday while addressing a panel discussion at an international policy forum in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.
Russian President Vladimir Putin headed for India on Thursday looking to tie up billions of dollars in arms deals with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, likely irking the US, China and Pakistan in one fell swoop. The Kremlin said before the two-day visit by Putin and top Russian ministers that the “key feature” would be the signing of a $5-billion deal for the S-400 air defence system, despite the risk of US sanctions against countries buying Russian defence kit.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Monday to try to come to an agreement over the Syrian rebel stronghold of Idlib. Vladimir Putin said: “We have a lot of issues to discuss, including difficult ones,” Putin said at the start of the talks at his residence in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his concern over terrorist activities in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, the RIA news agency cites the Kremlin as saying. President Vladimir Putin discussed the latest developments in Syria’s last stronghold of militants with members of Russia’s Security Council on Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying.
Russian and Syrian warplanes pounded towns in Syria’s opposition-held Idlib province on Saturday, a day after a summit of the presidents of Turkey, Iran and Russia failed to agree on a ceasefire that would forestall a Russian-backed offensive. Witnesses and rescuers said at least a dozen air strikes hit a string of villages and towns in southern Idlib and the town of Latamneh in northern Hama, where rebels are still in control.