Russia to use all existing channels to work on Syria with incumbent, future U.S. administration – diplomat

Sergei Ryabkov file photo

MOSCOW. Nov 10 (Interfax) – Russia will continue to work with the incumbent U.S. administration on Syria through bilateral and multilateral channels, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday. “Work is continuing via bilateral channels at different levels, special groups are continuing to work in a broader format in Geneva, and possible new documents on Syria are being […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Dmitry Medvedev’s interview with Channel 2 Israel

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – November 5, 2016) Ahead of his upcoming visit to the State of Israel, the Prime Minister gave an interview to Yonit Levi, host of the Israeli Channel 2 News. Yonit Levi (via interpreter): Prime Minister, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. I have several questions for you. In your opinion, what could Russia and Israel […]

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Russians Are Growing Uneasy About the Kremlin’s War in Syria, New Poll Shows

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ola Cichowlas – November 3, 2016) Despite Russia’s lack of independent news coverage on Syria and the heavily controlled nature of television, a new poll by the Levada Center suggests that the public is beginning to worry about Moscow’s conflict with the West in Aleppo spinning out of control. “On the whole, most people are […]

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RUSSIAN FOREIGN POLICY IN THE MIDDLE EAST 2015-2016: PUSHING ON AN OPEN DOOR

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(Robert O. Freedman, Johns Hopkins University – 31 October 2016) There is no question but that Russia has been very active in the Middle East over the last year, especially in Syria. There is a question however as to whether Moscow has been able to transform this activity into actual influence in the region. I would argue that the answer […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Poll: Nearly half of Russians fear World War III over Syria”

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According to a survey by the Levada Center polling agency, almost half of Russians (48 percent) are afraid that the breakdown in relations between Russia and the West over Syria could lead to a third world war. Another 31 percent of respondents were not particularly concerned and 11 percent did not fear a possible deterioration of the current situation.

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Why the U.S. thinks it could vanquish Russia in Syria without a fight”

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“Despite the signs that the U.S. and Russia are on the verge of a military confrontation in Syria, Washington is counting on Moscow to back down in the event that it decides to intervene. However, this betrays a lack of understanding both of the significance of Syria for the Kremlin and of the way public opinion is formed in Russia. […]

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NEWSLINK RBTH: “Russia to establish a permanent naval base in Syria”

File Photo of Deck of Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

“The Russian naval facility in the city of Tartus will be upgraded into a permanent naval base. Military experts believe that the Russian Defense Ministry may set up a detachment of ships in the Mediterranean armed with Kalibr-NK cruise missiles and headed by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier.”

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NEWSLINK RBTH: “Russia: We will shoot down U.S. jets in Syria that threaten our servicemen”

File Photo of F-22 Fighter and Ground Crew

“… Russian air defense and anti-missile systems in Syria are ready to shoot down ‘any unidentified flying object’ if air strikes are carried out on Syrian government positions, according to Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov. …”

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Russia’s Syria Campaign Seen Purely as Bid to Prop Up Assad

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(Voice of America – voanews.com – Victor Vladimirov – MOSCOW – September 30, 2016) The Russian air force’s bombing campaign in Syria marked its first anniversary Friday, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying there was no “time frame” for the operation. The Kremlin has officially declared the main objectives of its air campaign in Syria to be eliminating radical Islamic […]

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Analysis: ‘Barbarous’ Syria Bombings, MH17 Blame: What Consequences Could Russia Face?

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Steve Gutterman – September 30, 2016) In terms of its reputation, Russia has had one of its worst weeks ever. Incensed that Moscow is pushing ahead with the “barbarous” bombing of Aleppo and angry over an attack on an aid convoy that is widely blamed on Russian and Syrian forces, the United States is threatening to […]

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Washington’s latest statements may cause Russia to increase support for Syrian president – Russian expert

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MOSCOW. Oct 4 (Interfax) – The U.S. decision to unilaterally suspend interaction with Russia on the truce in Syria may cause the Russian Aerospace Forces’ operation in the country to last longer, Middle East expert and senior teacher at the Higher School of Economics Leonid Isayev said. “I think that this will result in Russia getting more actively involved in […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Aligned with Russia in Syria, Pentagon awkwardly treads on new terrain” – Reuters

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… the reactions of U.S. military officials range from caution to outright skepticism over a Geneva-based ‘joint integration center’ that may soon bring together American and Russian militaries to discuss shared targets for the first time since World War Two. … U.S. officials past and present voiced concerns about the initiative, underscoring the Pentagon’s long-public criticism about the way Russia […]

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Putin Says Russia and U.S. Close to Breakthrough Deal on Syria

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – September 2, 2016) Vladimir Putin said #Russia and the U.S. are close to striking a deal on fighting terrorists in Syria, potentially a major step toward ending a civil war that’s flooded Europe with refugees and helped give rise to Islamic State. “We’re gradually, gradually heading in the right direction,” the Russian president said in an […]

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NEWSWATCH: “U.S., Russia Discuss Syria Cooperation Plan. Officials see hope of reducing violence and creating atmosphere for political transition” – Wall Street Journal

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… Kerry and … Lavrov are meeting … in a bid to complete a deal on increased cooperation in Syria that officials hope could help create the calm necessary for talks on a political transition. … The Pentagon is concerned about more closely cooperating with Russia, which backs … al-Assad’s regime. * * * Kerry’s efforts are opposed by some […]

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NEWSLINK Valdai Discussion Club/ Paul Saunders: “TECTONIC SHIFTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST, OR ARE THEY REALLY?”

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Russia’s military operation in Syria – and America’s restraint there-has catalyzed discussion and debate about possible strategic realignments in the Middle East, generating excitement in Moscow about Russia’s “great power” role and parallel concern in Washington and some allied capitals about future U.S. influence.

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NEWSLINK RBTH/ Kommersant: “Six reasons Russia and Turkey will struggle to become strategic partners.”

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The Russian-Turkish rapprochement obtained during the Aug. 9 summit in St. Petersburg must not engender unrealistic expectations and excessive illusions. There are still many problems and serious contradictions in relations between Moscow and Ankara for there to be, as some commentators are already saying, a ‘strategic alliance’ between Russia and Turkey.

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin/ Erdogan] News conference following talks with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan

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(Kremlin.ru – August 9, 2016) President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, We have just completed the main part of the talks with President Erdogan. Naturally, this meeting is very important for the future of Russian-Turkish relations. We had a meaningful and, I would like to emphasise, constructive conversation on the entire range of bilateral issues and […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Turkey’s Erdogan Patches Up Relations With Putin” – Wall Street Journal

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… Putin and … Erdogan mended fences in a high-profile meeting Tuesday, bolstering their governments’ ties as both face strained relations with the West. … Erdogan’s first trip abroad since the Turkish coup attempt … signals his willingness to look to Moscow, traditionally the counterweight to Western influence in the Middle East. But Western leaders say Turkey … crucial to […]

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New commander takes charge of Russia’s operation in Syria

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Lt. Gen. Alexander Zhuravlev is expected to change the course of battle with Islamic State (ISIS) militants, who are advancing towards Palmyra once more. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI LITOVKIN, RBTH – July 22, 2016) The Russian business daily Kommersant reports that Lieutenant General Alexander Zhuravlev, first deputy commander of the South Military District, has been appointed […]

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How will the attempted coup in Turkey affect Moscow-Ankara relations?

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Experts are divided on the significance of the failure to overthrow the Turkish government by members of the country’s armed forces for Russia-Turkey relations. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA CHULKOVSKAYA, RBTH – July 17, 2016) Late in the evening of July 15, a military coup was attempted in Turkey. In Ankara, rebel faction of the armed forces […]

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NEWSWATCH: “U.S., Russia Agree on Steps Designed to End War in Syria, but Details Sketchy. Washington initially offered military coordination, but terms of agreement not divulged after two days of meetings in Moscow.” – Wall Street Journal

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U.S. and Russian officials said Friday they … reached an agreement on steps designed to pave the way for an end to the civil war in Syria, but top officials declined to detail the specific measures …. John Kerry, without elaborating, said implementing the steps could address … Assad and his regime’s disregard of a February cease-fire …. * * […]

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Turkey Signals Cooperation With Russia Against Islamic State

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Selcan Hacaoglu, Firat Kozok – July 4, 2016) Turkey may cooperate with Russia in fighting Islamic State, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Monday, just days after the countries agreed to work to repair strained ties. Cavusoglu denied signaling in an interview Sunday that Turkey may let Russia use southern Incirlik air base for operations in Syria. […]

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RBTH: Moscow and Washington consider expanding cooperation in Syria

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U.S. President Barack Obama made an offer to Russia to begin joint combat operations against the Al-Nusra Front militants. Some Russian experts believe that this overture has been made in order to strengthen the Democrat Party’s position in the presidential election race. Yet this step also could have positive implications for Moscow. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI […]

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RBTH: The 3 key areas of disagreement between Moscow and Damascus

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Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, Russia has been seen as a loyal ally to Bashar Assad, giving unwavering support to the Syrian president. Yet, the positions of Moscow and the Syrian regime are far from identical. Russia advocates a political solution to the crisis, whereas Assad sees war as the answer. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – […]

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VIDEO & TRANSCRIPT: Russian Violations of Borders, Treaties, and Human Rights – U.S. Senate Testimony by Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland

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Russian Violations of Borders, Treaties, and Human Rights Testimony, Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Statement Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Washington, DC, June 7, 2016, As prepared [Video of hearing also appeared here http://www.c-span.org/video/?410738-1/federal-officials-testify-human-rights-violations-russia][Video includes all speakers and some lawmakers; Nuland testimony transcript follows below] Thank you Chairman Corker, Ranking Member Cardin, and members […]

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NEWSLINK Russia Direct: “Conventional arms race draws the world closer to state of brinkmanship. With NATO’s military buildup near Russian borders and signs of instability from the Middle East to East Asia, it’s no longer inconceivable that the great powers could find themselves involved in a conventional war.”

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NEWSWATCH: “Iran and Russia Move Closer but Their Alliance Has Limits” – Reuters

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When Iran took delivery of the first parts of an advanced Russian air defense system this month, it paraded the anti-aircraft missile launchers … to mark Army Day. … the Kremlin’s decision a year ago to press ahead with the stalled sale of the S-300 system was the first clear evidence of a growing partnership between Russia and Iran that […]

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NEWSLINK Russia Direct: “What Russia’s military buildup near Aleppo means for Syria ceasefire. Russia’s military buildup near Aleppo indicates that it is too early to make conclusions about the implications of the Russian campaign in Syria. The campaign is not over, which might be both a boon and a bane for the Kremlin, experts warn.” [Alexei Arbatov, etc.]

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Ryabkov: timeframe for drafting Syria’s new constitution quite strict, but it is not fact it will be observed

Sergei Ryabkov file photo

MOSCOW. March 29 (Interfax) – The timeframe for preparing a new draft constitution for Syria is quite strict, but no deadlines have been set, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has said. “It is all relative,” Ryabkov said after being asked by Interfax whether August is a deadline for the drawing up of Syria’s draft constitution. “It is necessary to […]

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Interfax: Russian air operation [in] Syria not aimed at backing al-Assad – Russian Foreign Ministry

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MOSCOW. March 27 (Interfax) – The Russian military operation in Syria is not aimed at supporting the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Sunday. “It is not al-Assad we are backing. Bear in mind: he was not our best friend, but a friend of the West,” she told reporters. “We supported preservation of the […]

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Moscow Accuses Itself

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(RFE/RL – rferl.org – The Daily Vertical: Brian Whitmore – March 24, 2016) Well, it was predictable, but Sergei Lavrov has not let us down. He’s proven yet again the axiom that if you want to know what Russia is doing, pay close attention to what it accuses the West of doing. The Russian foreign minister yesterday urged Europe to […]

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RBTH: Why does Moscow need Syrian Kurdistan?

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Why is the Kremlin supporting the Syrian Kurds, who are now complicating the reginal picture by pushing for federalization, and how will this affect Russian assistance to the Bashar al-Assad regime? (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – SERGEI DEMIDENKO, SPECIAL TO RBTH – March 24, 2016) Sergei Demidenko is a Middle East expert and professor at the Russian Presidential […]

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Syria analyst: Damascus cannot take Russian support for granted

File Photo of Bashar al-Assad and Sergei Lavrov

Russia’s recent air campaign in Syria has had mixed effects on the civil war there. RBTH interviewed Noah Bonsey, Senior Syria Analyst at International Crisis Group, an NGO that researches conflicts and aims to advance policies for their resolution, as he returned from a recent field trip to Syria. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NIKOLAI SHEVCHENKO, RBTH – […]

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It Isn’t Time to Normalize With Russia Yet

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Marc Champion – March 22, 2016) Marc Champion writes editorials on international affairs. He was previously Istanbul bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal. He was also an editor at the Financial Times, the editor-in-chief of the Moscow Times and a correspondent for the Independent in Washington, the Balkans and Moscow. He is based in London. […]

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Interfax: Russia submits proposals to U.S. on monitoring truce in Syria

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(Interfax – March 21, 2016) The Russian Defense Ministry submitted proposals on the provision and monitoring of the cessation of hostilities in Syria to the United States on Feb. 25 through military diplomatic channels, Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi, head of the Main Operative Department of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff, has said. “This document specifies a mechanism of consultations […]

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NEWSLINK: “SYRIA: U.S.-RUSSIAN TEPID WAR. Syria appears unlikely to serve as a vehicle to improve the wider U.S.-Russia relationship in any sustainable way. A U.S.-Russian Tepid War can still lead to plenty of collateral damage.” – Valdai/Paul Saunders

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