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Putin: US Syrian Policy 'Weak' and Lacks Objectives

Putin: US Syrian Policy 'Weak' and Lacks Objectives
(AP)

Thursday, 15 October 2015 07:38 AM

Russian President Vladimir Putin said U.S. policy on Syria is weak and lacks objectives, though he remains open to direct talks as Russia’s bombing campaign continues in support of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

“I don’t really understand how the U.S. can criticize Russia’s actions in Syria if they refuse to have direct dialogue,” Putin told reporters Thursday during a visit to Astana, Kazakhstan. “The basic weakness of the American position is that they don’t have an agenda, though we’re keeping the door open” for talks, he said.

Amid growing friction over Russian airstrikes in Syria that began Sept. 30, the U.S. rejected Putin’s offer to send a delegation led by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to Washington to explain the campaign against Islamic State and other militants, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday. Putin accused some states of having “oatmeal in their heads” on Tuesday for failing to understand that Russia’s intervention seeks to defeat terrorism. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov expressed “regret” on Wednesday over the American rejection of high-level talks.

“We’ve said that we’re not interested in doing that as long as Russia is not willing to make a constructive contribution to our counter-ISIL effort,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday, using an acronym for Islamic State. “Russia has their own agenda and it’s an agenda right now that they’re pursuing on their own.”

Military Links

Russia and NATO member Turkey are establishing “lines of communication between our militaries in connection with events taking place in Syria,” following tensions over violations of Turkish airspace, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksey Meshkov told a conference in Moscow on Thursday, according to the Interfax news service. Turkey and Russia can find consensus on Syria, Umit Yardim, the Turkish ambassador to Moscow, said at the same meeting.

Russian airstrikes and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia are aiding government offensives in Syria against rebel groups near the western cities of Homs and Aleppo, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Assad’s troops have also made major advances in Hama and Latakia, Rami Abdurrahman, the group’s head, said by phone on Thursday.

“It looks like they are seeking to regain control of the road linking Damascus to Homs and then Aleppo,” said Abdurrahman, whose organization tracks the war through a network of activists. Islamic State has also taken territory near Aleppo in recent days and repelled government attacks in areas it already holds, he said.

Russian ‘Isolation’

Russia is wrapping itself in a “shroud of isolation” over Syria and in relation to the conflict in Ukraine, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Wednesday in Washington. Its actions in support of Assad “will inflame and prolong the Syrian civil war,” while the U.S. has “seen increasingly unprofessional behavior from Russian forces” there, he said.

In a sign of the risks involved, a Russian Su-30 fighter jet flew within about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) to 3 kilometers of a U.S. warplane on Oct. 10 during a mission in Aleppo Province, according to a statement by the Defense Ministry in Moscow on Wednesday. The intention was to identify the plane and “not scare anyone,” the ministry said.

Turkish airspace violations by Russian jets are unacceptable and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has “a duty to reinforce” its member, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said after a meeting of defense ministers in Brussels last week. Russia must “stop interfering” and halt attacks in Syria, where there’s a risk of a new exodus of refugees, Turkey’s interim deputy prime minister, Numan Kurtulmas, said in an interview with state-run Anadolu Agency on Friday.

 

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said U.S. policy on Syria is weak and lacks objectives, though he remains open to direct talks as Russia's bombing campaign continues in support of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. "I don't really understand how the U.S. can criticize Russia's...
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Thursday, 15 October 2015 07:38 AM
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