Russia is pushing Syria and Turkey into negotiations to withdraw its contingent for the war in Ukraine – Reuters

Russia is pushing Syria and Turkey into negotiations to withdraw its contingent for the war in Ukraine – Reuters

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Hakan Fidan, head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT), and Syrian intelligence chief Ali Mamlouk met as recently as this week in Damascus.

This is a sign of Russian efforts to encourage a thaw between states on opposite sides of Syria’s war. Reuters sources reported.

The contacts reflect a Russian policy shift as Moscow steels itself for a protracted war in Ukraine and seeks to secure its position in Syria, according to two Turkish officials and the regional source.

Turkish backing has been vital to sustaining Syrian rebels in the northwest of the country.

Міністр оборони Туреччини Хулусі Акар і голова розвідки Хакан Фідан перед зустріччю Путіним у Кремлі Росія, 24 серпня 2018 р Фото: Reuters

Negotiations between the countries will face significant diplomatic complications. Turkey, a NATO member country, has troops on the ground across the area, deemed occupying forces by Assad.

“Russia wants Syria and Turkey to overcome their problems and achieve certain agreements…which are in the interest of everyone, both Turkey and Syria,” the Turkish official said.

One big challenge is Turkey’s desire to include Syrian rebels in any talks with Damascus, the official added.

Interest of Russia

The Turkish security official said Russia has gradually withdrawn some military resources from Syria. Their basic goal is to focus on hostilities in Ukraine.

That is why the Russians asked Turkey to normalize relations with Assad to “accelerate a political solution” in Syria, the publication notes.

The senior Turkish official said Ankara does not want to see Iranian or Iran-backed forces plugging gaps left by Russian withdrawals.

Російські найманці у Сирії

They note that Russia also does not want Iranian influence to expand.

A diplomat based in the region said Russia had pulled a limited number of troops out of Syria’s south earlier this summer, particularly in areas along the border with Israel that were later filled by Iran-aligned forces.

It is not yet known whether the relevant negotiations will be implemented in meetings at the level of foreign policy departments or higher, but the publication emphasizes that Turkish-Syrian relations had begun to thaw and were advancing to a stage of “creating a climate for understanding”.

As previously reported, at the end of August, OSINT researchers detected that the Russians were able to transfer a battery of S-300 systems from Syria across the Black Sea. These were air defense systems, supposedly gifted to the Assad government. It is assumed that the Russians need air defense systems in the war against Ukraine.

At the same time, the ship that transported the systems passed through the Bosphorus.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine expressed to the ambassador of Türkiye the concern of the Ukrainian Side in connection with the available information regarding the passage of the Sparta II ship chartered by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation from Syria to Russia through the Bosphorus Strait.

Ukraine requested the Turkish side to provide official information regarding the cargo that was transported by the ship “Sparta II” and Ukraine wants to receive information about the measures taken by Türkiye in order to fulfil the provisions of the Montreux Convention.

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