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Andrey Kortunov

Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, RIAC member

In principle, the stated intention of the U.S. to work with Moscow toward a “unified Syria” does not contradict the Russian idea of creating de-escalation zones on the ground. The statement emphasizes the preferred political outcome of the Syrian conflict, which is to avoid redrawing borders and partitioning the country. The Kremlin would definitely support this approach.

In principle, the stated intention of the U.S. to work with Moscow toward a “unified Syria” does not contradict the Russian idea of creating de-escalation zones on the ground. The statement emphasizes the preferred political outcome of the Syrian conflict, which is to avoid redrawing borders and partitioning the country. The Kremlin would definitely support this approach.

On the other hand, de-escalation zones are not about political settlement; they are about military tactics. Moscow would like to see this tactic work out with the U.S. in the southwest of Syria, and it would also like to see the U.S. as an active and committed participant to the multilateral Astana process.

At some point, de-escalation zones might constitute a potential challenge to maintaining the political integrity of the future Syrian state. If these zones imply a long-term foreign military presence in certain parts of Syria, they might eventually lead to a de facto “soft partition” of the country into a number of “spheres of influence” permanently controlled by regional or overseas powers.

Nevertheless, at the current stage the most important immediate goal, as Moscow sees it, is to reduce the level of military violence and avoid a direct confrontation between external players directly involved in combat operations on the territory of Syria. The U.S. generally shares this goal; the devil is in the details, as always.

Source: SyriaDeeply


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