Russia is warning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to fulfill its end of the bargain after helping him turn the tide of the civil war.
Moscow, Assad’s main ally in the conflict, wants him to commit to peace talks, instead of fighting on until he is able to retake control of the whole country, Reuters reports, citing Russian United Nations ambassador Vitaly Churkin
In the first public sign of cracks in the alliance, Churkin said Russia is working toward a peaceful settlement for Syria and that attempting to take back control over the whole country would be a futile exercise which would allow the conflict to drag on indefinitely.
“Russia has invested very seriously in this crisis, politically, diplomatically, and now also in the military sense,” he said.
“Therefore we of course would like that Bashar al Assad should take account of that.”
Moscow and Damascus have been in lock-step since the end of September last year when Russia launched air strikes on Syria which focused on attacking rebels opposed to Assad’s rule.
The Russian strikes saved Assad’s forces from imminent collapse and turned the tide of the fighting in his favor, exasperating the United States and its allies which have been working for years to defeat him.
Western diplomats expressed hope that Russia could use its influence over Assad to persuade him to start talks with armed opposition groups and eventually agree to step down.
Unofficial reports have emerged of Assad refusing to meet opposition figures proposed by Moscow as potential negotiating partners, but Churkin’s remarks are the first public sign that Moscow is frustrated with Assad’s reluctance to compromise.
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