Izvestia: Russia raises alarm bells over Turkish military scheme in Syria

Russia has voiced its concerns over Turkey’s decision to carry out a new military operation in northern Syria, Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) Defense Committee Chairman Vladimir Shamanov told Izvestia. According to him, Moscow has a number of complaints over Turkey’s implementation of earlier reached agreements.

The two countries will have to hold challenging talks, which include ironing out the crisis in northeastern Syria and in Idlib. Meanwhile, Syrian lawmakers told the paper that the new Turkish operation would bury any chance of resuming dialogue between Damascus and Ankara, and would also call into question Turkey’s commitments under the Astana and Sochi agreements. In contrast, Turkey’s think tank SETA has explained that the operation is aimed at solving the current migrant crisis since eliminating Kurdish units from northeastern Syria would enable up to 1 million refugees to return home.

The United States has condemned Erdogan’s plans, fearing that Turkish military intervention could result in the collapse of institutional authority in the region and loosen control over prisons. Meanwhile, news broke on Wednesday that Washington had made a concession and agreed to set up a center in Ankara for carrying out operations jointly with Turkey in order to create a buffer zone in Syria. However, it is unknown whether Turkey would give up its plans on launching a new military operation in northeastern Syria. Obviously, Washington has decided to meet Turkey halfway in order to buy time, the paper writes.

In its turn, Russia has certain questions regarding Turkey’s plans for northern Syria, Shamanov stated. “The talks will be challenging since we have a number of complaints against Turkey concerning its implementation of the earlier reached agreements,” the lawmaker said. “Due to a delay in this process, a great number of planned decisions have not been implemented and the crisis in northern Syria is deepening. Before this operation is launched, this should be coordinated with the Russian General Staff,” he noted.

According to Chairman of the Russian Society of Friendship and Business Cooperation with Arab Countries Vyacheslav Matuzov, Russia has a reserved position since Erdogan’s military operation would not directly affect Russian and Syrian interests but is aimed at curbing Washington’s presence and Kurdish units. “This is more of a problem in US-Turkish relations. However, there is no certainty that Erdogan would cross this line,” the expert pointed out. The Turkish operation could even play into Russia’s hands because it would hamper the presence of the United States in northeastern Syria, he concluded.