Russia aims to prevent Turkey’s ground operation on Syrian territory, the special envoy of the Russian President for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev told the Russian state news agency TASS at the end of tripartite consultations in the framework of the “Astana scheme” (Russia, Iran, Turkey).
“Our mission is to nevertheless convince our Turkish colleagues that it is not appropriate for them to conduct a ground operation. This will also lead to an escalation of violence and casualties among the civilian population, to further enraging, among others, the Kurds who live there and to a new wave of violence, even on the territory of Turkey itself, the organization of various terrorist acts.” said Mr. Lavrentiev, noting that “I think that we should not allow this, and I do not think that the Turkish leadership is interested in any destabilization of the situation directly in Turkey itself on the eve of the upcoming [προεδρικών] elections of 2023”.
Russia, noted the competent high-ranking diplomat, continues in bilateral contacts with Turkey the efforts to prevent the ground operation and estimated that “they are listening to our arguments, which are quite well-founded and serious”. “During the consultations we call on all sides to avoid the excessive use of force,” said the Russian diplomat, who estimated that “the Syrian Kurds are essentially being held hostage by the United States, which is threatening to stop providing them with aid.” therefore “the Kurds are under very strong pressure from well-known Western capitals”, and in fact, in the last month “there have been several visits by high-ranking delegations from Washington, which prevented the Syrian Kurds from adopting steps to approach Damascus”.
“With the Turkish side, we have developed a fairly close communication primarily through the Ministries of Defense, which allows us overall to cancel the possibilities of escalation of tension”, commented Mr. Lavrentiev, who expressed the hope that a certain syro- Turkish approach, as “this is simply necessary, because they are two neighboring states, which should live amicably”. In fact, the Russian diplomat found that the relevant messages of rapprochement already exist from both sides and “are steps in the right direction, which will allow tragic incidents related to the death of civilians to not be allowed.”
Alexander Lavrentiev revealed that contacts to solve current problems “on the ground” also exist between the intelligence services of Syria and Turkey, while in Russia’s estimation a meeting between Presidents Assad and Erdogan could be hosted in Moscow, which remains willing to to organize it, but “the Turkish side considers that at the moment the conditions for it are not yet ripe”.
The Russian media, which covered the 19th meeting of the “Astana scheme” in the capital of Kazakhstan, also broadcast statements by the high-ranking representative of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ali Asghar Hanji, who assessed that “today Turkey is fulfilling its obligations in the context of the talks for security with Syria and with the help of Russia, these talks can have results.”
Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ayman Susan had a different assessment of Turkey, who stated at the final press conference that “the problem of the Astana scheme is that the Turkish side does not respect its obligations. This is a problem that all the participants in Astana are talking about, including the guarantor countries, who are trying to convey to the Turkish side that all these actions are unacceptable and only lead to the escalation of the situation in Syria and in the region as a whole” .
According to Mr. Susan, Damascus “will do whatever is necessary” to protect its territorial integrity, while those who “want to look for some excuses for their plans, this will only lead to failure and escalation, which I think it is not to the benefit of anyone in the region.”
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