Recent Russian Diplomatic Actions
After roughly a month of Russian air strikes in Syria, Russia has blasted its way back into the international and regional diplomatic scene. Over the last few days there has been a spike in international diplomatic activity surrounding the Syrian conflict, which comes in the wake of Bashar al Assad’s recent visit to Moscow. Russian diplomatic themes thus far, have concerned battling “terrorism,” intelligence sharing, and finding a political solution that keeps Bashar al Assad as head of Syria.
Early reports today quote both Russian President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov stating that they are willing to work with the Syrian opposition to root out ISIS and find a political solution to the crisis. Russia continues to search for new ways to legitimize the Syrian government to a larger audience. Sergei Lavrov said that members of the Russian government are preparing talks with a “wide spectrum” of Syrian opposition members to find a political solution in Syria. At the same time, according to Vladimir Putin, Bashar al Assad would view talks with the opposition “positively” if the Syrian opposition were to target ISIS. This comes after weeks of Russian targeting of Syrian opposition areas, and after years of clashes between the Syrian opposition and ISIS. Militarily, Russia has made an agreement with the Jordanian government over the last 24 hours. Sergei Lavrov was quoted by the Russian Times as saying, “Under an agreement between His Majesty King Abdullah II and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, the militaries of the two countries have agreed to coordinate their actions, including military aircraft missions over the Syrian territory.”
These developments preceded today’s meetings in Vienna between Russia, the US, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. The majority of Russia’s recent attempts meet with and possibly work with members of the Syrian opposition and international community are possibly a thinly veiled attempt to introduce a political solution to the Syrian crisis that includes keeping Bashar al Assad in power. Given, the stances taken by members of the Syrian opposition and a number of their foreign patrons, it seems plausible that Russia is just buying time as SARG and its allies attempt to seize ground.