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Turkey offensive in Syria forces Russia into a balancing act | DW |

Russian President Vladimir Putin didn't openly condemn Turkey's Operation Peace Spring in the northeast of Syria -- but it is clear he is hardly happy about the offensive. According to a Kremlin statement, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke on the phone to Putin just before Turkey launched the offensive. Putin apparently "called on his Turkish partners to weigh its action with care, so as not to damage common efforts to regulate the Syrian crisis."

Russia's official line when it comes to Syria has been to push for the formation of a constitutional committee, which is seen as an important stepping stone in the peace process by the international community. The other repeated Russian refrain is the call for Syria's "territorial integrity" and sovereignty, which both Erdogan and Putin apparently emphasized on the phone as well.

To observers in Moscow, however, this operation is much worse for Russian interests than the Kremlin statement implies. Vyacheslav Matuzov, a Middle East expert and former diplomat, tells DW that "the Turkish military invasion is not in Russia's interest, because Russia believes that the Syrian government should be the housekeeper on the territory of Syria."

After all, Russian forces entered the war in 2015 to back Syrian President Bashar Assad's government, and Russian military support has essentially swung the conflict in the Syrian government's favor in recent years. On Sunday, Putin insisted that any forces that were not explicitly called on by Assad's government for assistance in the war are essentially illegitimate occupiers and should leave the country. He almost certainly meant US forces -- but probably Turkish forces as well. But Russian officials have also repeatedly called Turkish security concerns in their operation against Kurdish forces legitimate.

From the MENAT nations ...

President Erdoğan: World's inaction prompted Syria move | Hürriyet Daily News |
Trump sending Pence to Turkey to `pursue a ceasefire and negotiated settlement' | Times of Israel |
Putin visit to strengthen UAE-Russia relations | Gulf News |
Vladimir Putin in the United Emirates: Live updates of visit | The National - UAE |

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by Oui on Tue Oct 15th, 2019 at 10:29:41 AM EST

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