Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday that Moscow did not ask the Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad to resign, and did not offer him political asylum.
In a press conference in Moscow, Lavrov added that Russia’s Air Force operations in the region “were instigated in response to a request from the Syrian leadership, and had made it possible to change the course of events in the country and to minimize the terrorist-controlled area”.
US Secretary of State John Kerry hopes there will be a forthcoming agreement as to who will represent the Syrian opposition at peace talks ahead of them being held in Geneva.
Kerry told journalists that he agreed with the UN envoy to Syria, Staffan di Mistura, on the importance of not sending out invitations before “arranging everything”.
The world powers, including the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Iran, have not yet come to an agreement as to who will represent the Syrian opposition. Russia and Iran have rejected the US and Saudi Arabia’s suggestion that they form the opposition delegation.
The UN previously said the talks cannot be held unless the US and Russia agree on who will represent the opposition negotiating with the regime, in an attempt to end the Syrian crisis.
Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Syria needs to work on a new constitution as a first step towards reaching a political agreement to end its five-year civil war.
“Based on the new constitution, they must then carry out new presidential and parliamentary elections,” Putin said in his interview with German newspaper, Bild.
Andrew Korybko, a Moscow-based political analyst and journalist for Sputnik news agency as well as an expert at the Institute for Strategic Studies and Predictions, believes that the issue is not so much between Russia and the US at this point, but between Russia and the US’s Turkish and Saudi allies.
“Moscow and Washington have publicly stated that they want to get the conflict-resolution process started as soon as possible; both are eager to enter this new phase for their own respective reasons, but the US might be using its regional partners as ploys in a larger game,” Korybko told Daily News Egypt.
According to Korybko, Ankara and Riyadh are playing the role of obstructers and have been insisting that certain terrorist groups be made party to the negotiations.
“Turkey is also dead-set against the inclusion of any Kurdish representatives. Recent history would suggest that Qatar could also be in league with these two states in advocating for similar goals. The recent trip of the Qatari Emir to Moscow and the positive statements made by him and President Putin afterwards indicate that they’ve reached some sort of pragmatic settlement,” he continued.
There is also the possibility that these last-minute delays are strategically planned as a means of unnerving the Russian and Syrian representatives, seeing as all of this coincides with the US’s recent threats to resort to force if the negotiations are not successful, according to Korybko.
No matter the intent behind it, these talks will not be able to move forward until this disagreement is resolved.