n this photo taken on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hand with Syrian President Bashar Assad in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.

n this photo taken on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hand with Syrian President Bashar Assad in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. Alexei Druzhinin, RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Syria's Assad Visits Russia While Turkey Points to the Exit

In Moscow, Assad thanked Russia for its role in preventing 'events in Syria from taking an even more tragic turn.'

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited Moscow on Tuesday at the invitation of his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to discuss the security situation in his country, which is in the midst of a nearly five-year-long civil war, and lay the base for a long-term political settlement, the Kremlin said Wednesday.

The visit is apparently Assad’s first outside his country since 2011, and it shows the Syrian leader’s confidence after the Russian military intervention in the civil war began on September 30 on his  behalf. Russia’s operations are ostensibly against the Islamic State, but its airstrikes and missile strikes have reportedly also hit other groups—some backed by the West—that are fighting Assad.  

A transcript of the meeting posted on the Kremlin’s website noted that the visit was initiated at Putin’s request, and that claim was backed by the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency. (You can watch the meeting here.)

“We took the decision upon your request to provide effective aid to the Syrian people in fighting the international terrorists who have unleashed a genuine war against Syria,” Putin told Assad, according to the Kremlin’s transcript. “The Syrian people has been practically alone in putting up resistance and fighting these international terrorists for several years now, and has suffered great losses. Lately though, there have been some major positive results in this fight.”

Those “major positive results” are likely because of Russia’s role. Russia, and before it the Soviet Union, has been a longtime ally of Syria, and its involvement in the conflict is part of Putin’s desire for a more forceful foreign policy in the region. Putin has also noted, as he did in Tuesday’s meeting, the estimated 4,000 people from the former Soviet Union who have joined the Islamic State and are fighting Assad in Syria.

“Of course, we cannot let these people gain combat experience and go through ideological indoctrination and then return to Russia,” Putin said.

In his remarks, Putin appeared to lay groundwork for a political settlement.

“On the question of a settlement in Syria, our position is that positive results in military operations will lay the base for then working out a long-term settlement based on a political process that involves all political forces, ethnic, and religious groups,” Putin told Assad. “Ultimately, it is the Syrian people alone who must have the deciding voice here.”

Those comments could prove particularly significant. The U.S. and its allies say any political settlement in Syria must first involve Assad stepping down. But on Tuesday, an unnamed official from Turkey, one of Assad’s most severe critics, told Reuters the Syrian leader could stay “for six months … [if] there will be a guarantee of his departure.” That apparent concession is part of a plan being  discussed with Turkey’s Western allies.

The U.S., which has been carrying out its own airstrikes against the Islamic State, has been particularly critical of Russia’s intervention in Syria, with President Obama suggesting it was a sign of Russia’s weakness and the actions would lead it into a “quagmire.” Still, the two sides signed a technical agreement on Tuesday regulating drone and aircraft flights over Syria.

In Moscow, Putin told Assad that any coordination on a political process in Syria would be done “in close contact with the other global powers and with the countries in the region that want to see a peaceful settlement to this conflict.”

Assad, in his comments, thanked Russia for its role in preventing “events in Syria from taking an even more tragic turn.”

“Of course, we all know that any military action must be followed by political steps,” he said. “Of course, our common goal is to bring about the vision the Syrian people have of their own country’s future.”

It’s unclear what impact the Russian intervention has had. Supported by Russian airstrikes, Syrian ground forces, along with fighters from Iran and Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group from Lebanon, have staged a massive ground offensive against rebel-held cities, including Aleppo. But other news reports suggest that the Islamic State has actually made more gains after the Russian airstrikes began. If nothing else, the Russian intervention has bolstered Assad. It was long believed the Syrian leader hadn’t left the country because he feared a coup, but Russia’s role appears to have changed that—though Assad’s trip was made public only after he had returned home to Syria.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.