Putin can not make an ultimatum

The principle of Putin’s Syria policy: no regime change from the outside. The Kremlin is holding on to Assad for the time being – and shows how to let a US foreign minister fidget. Trump raised new accusations.

In the Kremlin one dominates the game of holding. On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson found himself on his visit to Moscow. While President Vladimir Putin has always had time for German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel or Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov wanted to speak of a “certain probability” of a meeting with Tillerson at Wednesday morning.

In the evening, Putin finally had two hours for the new US diplomats – the back and forth can be interpreted as part of the Russian response to the US attack on an air force base of the regime of Bashar al-Assad and Tillerson’s utterances.

The US Foreign Minister had already caused a stir in Moscow. It was unclear whether Russia had not taken his task seriously or simply “incompetent” to keep Assad out of chemical weapons and their use, Tillerson had said before his arrival in Russia. In addition, the US Foreign Minister called on the Kremlin to make a clear statement in the Syrian war: either Moscow agrees with the US and its partner states, or Syrian President Assad, who is allied with Iran and the Hezbollah militia.

Even before Tillerson put his foot on Russian ground, it was clear that the Kremlin did not intend to let an ultimatum be set by the US Secretary of State. “Driving an ultimatum with us is futile, simply counterproductive,” the Moscow Foreign Ministry said. It announced a meeting with its allies: on Thursday with the Syrian Foreign Minister, on Friday then in triple format with the Iranian Foreign Minister.

Putin also spoke up, the Staatsfernsehen blind sequences of an interview with the president. The confidence level at work with the Americans is not better, “but rather worse, especially on the military level,” he said. It almost sounded as if Putin missed the so hated former President Barack Obama.

“He is not so interested in the story”

In the Kremlin one can not really estimate what the US and especially President Donald Trump even in Syria want exactly. They are still hoping to make arrangements with the US government for a kind of partnership. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the evening tried to emphasize the few similarities, however small they may be. He had been talking to Tillerson for more than four hours.

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Putin is ready to reintroduce the Syrian Airspace Conflict Agreement, he said, however, on the condition that they fight together against terrorism. In Washington, however, it had previously been said that despite the Putin’s announcement that the memorandum would be suspended, there were still talks between the Russian and American military. It was also agreed to set up a joint working group to improve the dialogue. Representatives of both ministries are now to be deployed, the “stimulus factors” from the Obama period “pragmatic” and “emotionless” dismantle.

While Tillerson spoke of a low point in his relations, Lavrov emphasized the pragmatism of his interlocutor: “Rex said he was a new man and was not so interested in history.”

“The rule of the Assad family comes to an end”

What the US has to offer for a Russian departure from Assad, however, the former oilman Tillerson did not recognize exactly on Wednesday. “Our view is clear that the rule of the Assad family is coming to an end.” He spoke only of the fact that Assad’s power would be “ordered,” but he did not mention details.

For the Kremlin, it would be an admission of the weakness to let the Syrian rulers simply fall behind after so many years of support. Putin will do this only if Washington offers Russia a way for a political solution that is face-to-face.

The decade-long connection with the Assad regime is too valuable for the Kremlin to give it up. For Assad, Assad guaranteed at least some stability in the war country. Syria should continue to exist, not to fall uncontrollably and to slip into chaos such as Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein or Libya from Gaddafi, according to the Russian argument.

It is one of the main pillars of Putin’s policy that there should be no change of power through external intervention. Russia sees them as an interference of the West. This narrative also determines the domestic political agenda of Russia, if warned about revolutions such as in the Ukraine, which would only bring chaos. “It is not a matter of simply removing governments,” Lavrov said on Wednesday. “We already know of experiments of this kind, which want to overthrow any dictator, totalitarian or autocratic leader”. The Syrian people must decide.

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Putin’s confusion strategy

The Foreign Minister once again demonstrated Moscow’s willingness to talk. Russia can not afford an escalation of the Syrian war. It would be expensive and would endanger the lives of Russian soldiers. Moscow plays once again on time.

On the one hand, Moscow has sent two warships into the Mediterranean and strengthened the defense of missiles. On the other hand, it is Putin himself, who is trying to create uncertainty by presenting two statements for the nerve attack in Chan Sheikhun on Wednesday. Either the Syrian air raids had hit chemical repositories of the rebels and the chemical weapon had escaped – or was the attack Were staged to discredit the Assad government.

High-ranking US government circles believe Putin’s statements are not plausible. For them, it is clear that the Syrian regime is responsible for the nerve attack (see here the fact check: Why everything speaks for the Syrian regime as a perpetrator). It was not the first attack, Tillerson said. He spoke of about 50 cases.

Trump: Russia knew about poison gas attack

In the evening, after his meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump once again yielded: The US President suspected Russia to have known about the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria. “I wish I could say they did not know, but they could know for sure,” said Trump on Wednesday in Washington. “They were down there.”

Russia wants to have the attack in Chan Sheikhun now independently investigated, announced Lavrov. This is at least one with the USA.

The United Nations Security Council resolution presented by the UK, France and the US blocked Russia later. It would have severely condemned the nerve-rack attacks and imposed the regime’s obligation on international investigators to access the site.

It is already Moscow’s eighth veto of a resolution since the beginning of the Syrian civil war.

In : Politic

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