Express dinner: the situation in Syria has forced Putin to go to Erdogan
Material posted: Publication date: 29-09-2017
Vladimir Putin on Thursday held a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The conversation was held behind closed doors, however, before a visit to Ankara it was known that the focus will be on Syria.

Work for dinner

Russian President Vladimir Putin, after spending the first half of the day on September 28, talks at the Kremlin with President of Guinea alpha Conde, in the evening went to a working dinner with President of Turkey. Erdogan last week announced a meeting with his Russian counterpart in Ankara. As a result, the meeting of the two presidents lasted almost two hours. In addition to the head of state in conversation with members of the Turkish delegation was attended by the Minister of foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov, energy Minister Alexander Novak, head of the General staff Valery Gerasimov, the President's special envoy on the Syrian settlement, Alexander Lavrentyev, the head of Rosatom Alexey Likhachev, the head of "Gazprom" Alexey Miller and other officials.

The meeting was held behind closed doors. As pointed out by the press service of the Kremlin, the main attention would be paid to the situation in Syria, discussing the implementation of projects related to the construction of the gas pipeline "Turkish stream" nuclear power plant "Akkuyu". As noted by the press Secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov, in the latter case, the two presidents discussed the points that hamper implementation of the project.

Miller, in turn, was informed by Putin and Erdogan on the implementation of the gas pipeline "Turkish stream", said Peskov. According to Miller, everything is positive.

In addition, Peskov said, nearing the solution of the questions connected with delivery to Russia of Turkish tomatoes.

Erdogan also announced Putin's visit to Turkey next year.

Already before coming to Turkey Peskov pointed out that Putin's visit exclusively pragmatic goals, presidents need to "compare notes" on many issues. The current visit of the Russian President to Ankara, his second trip to Turkey in 2015, when the area of the Syrian-Turkish border by the Turkish air force was shot down by Russian su-24. After the restoration of relations, the leaders have met more than once, but the first meeting is held in such a concise format.

The urgency of the meeting of the two presidents due to the sharp deterioration of the situation in the North-Western area of de-escalation in the Syrian province of Idlib, said the expert of the Russian international Affairs Council (RIAC) Kirill Semenov.

That the negotiations had to be Idlib, Erdogan said last week. The Russian side in the materials for the meeting indicated that the focus will be on the situation in Syria, and in particular, the coordination of the two countries, especially in the areas of de-escalation, has transferred "Interfax" on September 28.

However, Syria the agenda of the meeting was not supposed to be exhausted. According to news agencies, Putin and Erdogan planned to discuss the outcome of the referendum on the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan and the issues of bilateral cooperation: Turkey anti-missile system s-400, the project of gas pipeline "Turkish stream" and the construction of NPP "Akkuyu."

Vladimir Putin during a visit to Turkey on 28 September 2017 (Photo: Mikhail Metzel / TASS)

Troubled Idlib

From may 2017, Russia, Turkey and Iran, by mutual agreement we are working on creating four zones of the cease-fire in Syria. Three zones (in East Huta near Damascus, in the South of Syria and to the North of HOMS) earned by the end of summer, but until mid-September, the parties failed to finalize the parameters of the zone in Idlib, bordering Turkey. The complexity of ceasefire due to the fact that there are concentrated the main forces of the group "Hayat Tahrir al-sham" (HTS). It is based on a banned terrorist organization "al-Nusra Front". According to the rules for security zones (zones de-escalation) on HTS and banned in Russia IG, not covered by the ceasefire. To ensure the truce, you must first delimit terrorist groups and factions in the moderate opposition, which had joined the truce.

Finally the parameters of the zone of de-escalation in Idlib, the three countries agreed at negotiations in Astana on 14-15 September, and since that time the situation in the area began to deteriorate.

20 Sep HTS militants attacked a platoon of the military police at the observation point deployed at the border of the provinces of Idlib and Hama to monitor the ceasefire. In the attack, 29 people were blocked and within a few hours repulsed the attacks. To defend the Russian military helped soldiers moili tribe, which previously joined the truce. According to the defense Ministry, the attack HTS initiated US intelligence agencies to stop "successfully developing the offensive of the government troops to the East of Deir ez-Zor". However, the Pentagon rejected Moscow's accusations of supporting terrorists, calling them "baseless".

To free the Russian military has formed a special group, during the fighting wounded three Russian soldiers. In support of ground operations, Russia began to strike from the air: according to the General staff, during the day, 20 September, with air strikes was destroyed 187 objects on the territory of the province of Idlib and about 850 terrorists.

"The problem in Idlib is very serious. As soon as there began to form the first observation points, HTS immediately gave the provocation, which led to the escalation of the conflict in this area", — the expert explains Semenov. After the terrorist attacks on the Russian military Moscow realized that alone can not cope with the task of ensuring security in the area, so there was a need for more active role of Turkey in resolving the situation, according to RIAC expert Semenov.

The solution of the question can contribute to the deployment of Turkish military in the area of de-escalation. About the readiness of Ankara to deploy military inside the zone President Erdogan told Reuters in an interview on September 21.

Lost confidence in Russia

The situation for Russia in Idlib is complicated by the loss of confidence on the part of the moderate opposition after the last bombing, including the events of 20 September, experts say RBC. The Syrian revolutionary forces, head of the delegation of the opposition in Astana, Russia accused of war crimes against the civilian population of the province, and air strikes on positions of moderate militants. According to Semenov, Russia could act "not so hard". He drew attention to the fact that all the media and page groupings HTS in social networks spread information that the attack was allegedly coordinated and carried out jointly with the groups of the moderate opposition, although the latter is not confirmed.

The provocation of terrorists associated with the gradual weakening and disintegration HTS, from which came the group "Nur ad-DIN AZ-Zenk", "Jaish al-Ahrar", and the famous Shaykh al-Muhaisin, indicates Anton Mardas, head of the research Department of middle East conflicts of the Institute of innovative development. Both experts noted that conducting full-scale operations against kontrterroristicheskaia HTS almost impossible, because in this case, fighting would inevitably have drawn all the rebel forces, including moderate factions that would undermine the armistice agreement.

"Russia in this scenario would spoil relations with all countries in the Middle East, in Syria, the various factions, and would have failed the very idea of creating areas of de-escalation", — specifies the Mardas.

Russia is interested in the speedy establishment of the ceasefire in Idlib, Turkey has the same goals, says Mardas. In his words, Ankara does not want a large military operation in the region, as it is not ready to accept new refugees, and is also interested in the destruction of HTS, terrorists which control the smuggling routes of trade oil on the Syrian-Turkish border in Idlib province.

Russia expects that Turkey will consolidate the various factions of the moderate opposition, and thus solve the problem HTS, says Semenov.

The Kurdish question

Held on September 25 in Iraqi Kurdistan referendum on independence from Iraq have provoked rising tensions in the middle East. The President of Turkey (and the Kurds represent 18% of the population) strongly condemned the referendum, the majority of the participants voted for secession. Erdogan has threatened the government of an autonomy of economic and military sanctions, including the suspension of oil supplies from the Autonomous region to Turkey — the main source of income of the Kurdish regional government.

Before the meeting, the Russian leader, the situation in Iraq after the referendum did not comment, but his press Secretary recalled that Russia's position is unchanged — it stands for the preservation of the territorial integrity of Iraq. Sanctions and other penalties Moscow not threatened.

The referendum led the Kurdish problem into a regional and global level, so the presidents can't leave it without attention, says Semenov.

Russia is trying to abstain from a clear position on the Kurdish issue, and Turkey surely wants to obtain an explanation of Moscow's position, I'm sure the independent expert-the expert Timur Akhmetov. The Kurdish issue, according to him, important in the context of Syria, in the North, which also formed a de facto Kurdish autonomy. Without solving the Kurdish issue, the Syrian issue cannot be resolved, Moscow will play an important role in this process indicates Akhmetov.

Russia after the referendum is necessary to ensure the continuation of their economic projects. On 18 September, Rosneft announced that it has held talks with the KRG about the possibility of the company's participation in the project on construction of a gas pipeline on which gas will be supplied to Turkey and European markets. Without Turkey to implement this project is impossible, specifies Akhmetov.

Angelica Basisin


Tags: Iran , Russia , war , Syria , Turkey