10/12/2015, 00.00
RUSSIA - SYRIA
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Not only raids, Russia strikes on diplomatic front to find a solution in Syria

by Nina Achmatova
Putin meets with leaders from Saudi Arabia and Emirates which has ensured that the Russian objective is "to create the conditions for finding a political compromise". Waiting for the meeting between Lavrov and UN envoy Staffan de Mistura. Experts urge the West to look to new openings with Moscow.

Moscow (AsiaNews / Agencies) - "Russia will have to choose soon whether its military actions in Syria are a form of diplomacy or a real attempt to destroy IS". Thus a recent analysis of the think tank Carnegie Center in Moscow raises the question of the Russian intervention, for now only with air raids, alongside the regime in Damascus, and that gave a jolt the Syrian question.

Given the small size of the engagement Russian (four SU-30MS, six Su-34), many believe that the  Kremlin is not attempting to establish - as some have reported - a no-fly zone, in direct opposition to US operations. In addition to the defense of national interests, concentrated in the Russian military presence in the port of Tartus, Moscow appears to be moving more with its diplomats and using its military presence as leverage in negotiations on the post-Assad Syria.

It is no coincidence, experts note, that in connection with the military attack on IS and "terrorist groups in Syria," as the Kremlin is keen to stress, the intensity of diplomatic contacts between Moscow, the ' West and the actors in the Middle East has also increased.

In fact, on 11 OctoberPresident Vladimir Putin met for the second time in less than four months, with the Saudi Minister of Defense Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud, with whom in Sochi discussed the steps to establish the peace process in Syria.

The meeting was announced by the Lavrov himself who added that Moscow understands the concerns of the Saudis, hostile to Assad. Just before it was the turn of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, deputy commander of the armed forces of the United Arab Emirates, on the sidelines of the Formula 1 Grand Prix in the Russian city on the Black Sea.

Putin reiterated Russia’s aims to the Suadis which, he said is "to stabilize the legitimate authorities in Syria and create conditions for a political compromise." Moscow reiterated that all external players with influence in Syria, including Riyadh, need to promote inter-Syrian dialogue.

While Lavrov today, October 12, announced "progress" in the negotiations between Riyadh, Moscow and Washington for a solution to the crisis, a meeting between the head of Russian diplomacy and the UN special envoy for the Syria, Staffan de Mistura was announced for tomorrow.

The West must take Moscow into account

The political position of Russia on the future of Syria is changing, according to Carnegie, and the West must take that into account. Both Putin and Lavrov have stopped defining all opposition forces indiscriminately as terrorists, opening up to collaboration with the Free Syrian Army. Moscow does not exclude the replacement - albeit gradual – of Assad. "The Kremlin understands that the transformation of his regime is inevitable," writes Carnegie, according to which "the Russian military deployment in Syria can be seen as a way to ensure that Moscow has a say in decisions about the methods by which this will change. "

"If the West refuses the Putin initiative the prospects for Syria could become even more dire - write Carnegie - because there are many stakeholders in Moscow who see few advantages in cooperation on Syria. They would be absolutely happy to focus on shoring up the Assad regime and on increasing Russian military support ". "This might not save the fall Damascus, but would prolong the conflict and increase the number of victims on all sides. Russia has already indicated it may raise the stakes in Syria. "

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