PUTIN, THE G-8 SUMMIT AND SYRIA: A COMMENT
LOUGH ERNE (Northern Ireland), June 18 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama admitted Monday they disagreed on how to respond to the civil war in Syria but said they are both committed to ending the violence that has ravaged the country over the past two years. “With respect to Syria, we do have differing perspectives on the problem, but we share an interest in reducing the violence; securing chemical weapons and ensuring that they're neither used nor are they subject to proliferation; and that we want to try to resolve the issue through political means, if possible,” Obama said in comments released by the White House on Monday. Putin offered a similar assessment. “Our opinions do not yet coincide,” Putin told reporters after his talks with Obama. “But we are united in our intention to end the violence, end the rise of innocent victims in Syria, (and) resolve the problem through peaceful means,” Putin said, adding that he and Obama had agreed to “push” the two sides to the negotiating table in Geneva. Discussions about the Syrian conflict were widely expected to take center stage at the meeting between the two leaders on the sidelines of the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland. The United States has vowed to step up its support for the Syrian opposition, including military aid, in the wake of fresh US claims that Syrian government forces have used chemical weapons multiple times during the conflict. Russia has repeatedly maintained that outside interference in the conflict could lead to extremist elements seizing power in Syria and has pushed back against Western countries’ demands that Syrian President Bashar Assad must step down in order for a political resolution to the conflict to proceed.Novosti, "Putin, Obama Admit Split on Syria But Pledge Cooperation." 18 June 2013, in www.en.ria.ru/military_news
Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin faced further isolation on the second day of a G8 summit on Tuesday as world leaders lined up to pressure him into toning down his support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Following an icy encounter between the Kremlin chief and U.S. President Barack Obama late on Monday, the G8 leaders will seek to find resolution to a war that has prompted powers across the Middle East to square off on sectarian lines. The sticking point again will be Putin, who faced a barrage of criticism from Western leaders for supporting Assad and the Syrian's president's attempt to crush a 2-year-old uprising in which at least 93,000 people have been killed. "It's a clarifying moment to see what kind of commitments the Russians are willing to make in a leading world forum," a British official said before the leaders met for dinner at a remote, heavily guarded golf course outside of Enniskillen. An official close to one of the delegations said the talks over dinner had gone better than expected and that a joint communiqué with Russia on Syria now seemed more likely. However, the official declined to speculate on what Russia might be willing to sign up for. But if consensus could not be reached, it was possible a final statement at the end of the two-day summit might be released without Russia's input and in the name of the G7 rather than the G8. Divisions over Syria dominated the atmosphere as global leaders met in Northern Ireland, a place once rocked by decades of violence but which Britain now wants to showcase as a model of conflict resolution. Putin and Obama appeared tense as they addressed reporters late on Monday after about two hours of talks, with Putin mostly staring at the floor as he spoke about Syria and Obama only glancing occasionally at the Russian leader. Stung by recent victories for Assad's forces and their support from Hezbollah guerrillas, the United States said last week it would step up military aid to the rebels, including automatic weapons, light mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. Putin said Moscow and Washington had different views on Syria but agreed the bloodshed must stop and that the warring parties should be brought to the negotiating table. "With respect to Syria, we do have differing perspectives on the problem but we share an interest in reducing the violence and securing chemical weapons and ensuring that they're neither used nor are they subject to proliferation," Obama said. .By Kate Holton and Jeff Mason, "Putin faces isolation over Syria as G8 ratchets up pressure." Reuters. 17 June 2013, in www.reuters.com. The failure of the combined pressure of seven of the G-8 leaders to force the hand of Russian Federation President Putin in the matter of Syria, is not in the least surprising. As the Russian commentator in yesterday's Financial Times, Andrei Nekrasov has noted, a mixture of primat der Innenpolitik and primat der Aussenpolitik govern Russian decision-making in this crisis 1. That being said, in the absence of the great likelihood that the Assad regime is about to collapse, there seems to be little or no reason for Putin to suddenly change course and accede to Western pressure to forsake his Syrian ally. The fact that the West's own 'clients' (if one can label them as such) in Syria are remarkable for being of questionable moral character, effectiveness and transparency does not exactly assist in such an exercise of persuasion. The fact is that with Assad forces being seen as on the ascendant militarily speaking, even if (pace the American online journal, Stratfor), they are unable to take the important city of Aleppo at the moment, means that there is no sense diplomatically speaking, for Moskva to disentangle itself from its Syrian client. Especially, since (pace the British newspaper the Independent) the regime in Persia has like its Hezbollah client, gone on the offensive and added four-thousand troops to Assad's ground forces. Iraqi 'volunteers' also appear to be assisting Assad as well 2. With those facts on the ground at the moment, it is extremely unrealistic to expect Grazhdanin Putin to toss aside his major ally / client in the Near and Middle East due to not very onerous Western diplomatic pressure. To reiterate: per se, Putin, et. al., are not in reality truly committed to Assad or his regime remaining in power. It is for example a complete non possumus, to expect Russia to send troops, either on the ground or in the air to assist Assad. That fact however does not mean that the uses that Putin finds in having Assad in power have cease to exist. Unless and until Assad, et. al., no longer serves a positive purpose for Matushka Russia, will Moskva throw the current regime in Damascus overboard. And that result in only come about when Assad's regime is about to collapse. Sans, Western (AKA 'American') military intervention on the ground it is I believe (following the always wise Joshua Landis) extremely unlikely that the regime will be turned out of power 3. 1. Andrei Nekrasov, "Russia’s motives in Syria are not all geopolitical." The Financial Times. 18 June 2013, in www.ft.com. 2. Robert Fisk, "Iran to send 4,000 troops to aid President Assad forces in Syria." The Independent. 16 June 2013, in www.independent.co.uk ;Stratfor, "Analysis: Obstacles to a Syrian Regime Victory in Aleppo." Stratfor: Strategic intelligence. 17 June 2013, in www.stratfor.com. 3. Joshua Landis, "Obama Owes Syrians and Americans a Detailed Vision of Syria’s Future." Syria Comment. 19 June 2013, in www.syriacomment.com.