Destruction of Syria’s Chemical Weapons: A ‘Win-win’ for US and Russia

US and Russia finally agree on one thing!

Collaborating on the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons, speculation started to stir in the media if Russia has outplayed the United States of America with regards to the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons.

In an interview with Mr. Aleksandr Artemyev of, Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns addressed the issue by saying that the cooperation between Russia and the United States on the question of the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons is an important positive step.

An advance team of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations arrives in Damascus, Syria, four days after the OPCW Executive Council and the UN Security Council unanimously endorsed a plan to begin the process of overseeing the destruction of the country’s chemical weapons programme. The team, which includes 19 OPCW inspectors and 14 UN staff members, went into Syria over land from the Lebanese capital, Beirut. UN PHOTO

In addition, the United States and Russia also share an interest in trying to move ahead toward a political solution based on the Geneva communique of last year.

Mr. Burns notes that Secretary Kerry and Minister Lavrov are working quite intensively to try to help bring about the resumption of the Geneva process and a Geneva II meeting at the earliest possible date.

Elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons program is a win-win for Russia and US

According to Mr. Burns, tndoubtedly the successful elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons program is a win-win.

He says it would be an achievement for the United States, an achievement for Russia, an achievement for people across the region who might be threatened by such weapons, particularly if they are either used again by the Syrian regime or if they fall into the wrong hands.

He further explains that it is US and Russia interest to make progress towards a political solution, because the United States has long been convinced, that there is no military solution to the challenge in Syria.

Both believe that the sooner they make progress towards a diplomatic resolution the better it will be for Syria as well as Syria’s neighbors, who are bearing the considerable burden of refugee outflow and the instability that comes with that.

Update on US and Russia relations

According to Mr. Burns, the relationship between the United States and Russia is an important one for both of the countries and for the international community.

“I continue to be convinced of the potential of our relationship, continue to be convinced that ours is a consequential relationship.” – Mr. Burns

He emphasized that the reality is that Russia and the United States, as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, as the two largest nuclear powers in the world, as two of the largest producers of hydrocarbons in the world today, have a great deal to contribute to solving international problems across a wide range of issues.

Mr. Burns believes that both countries have more to gain by working together than by working separately.

Is Russia Blocking Meaningful Action on Syrian Crisis?

Earlier this year, with the turmoil continue to engulf Syria, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the Russians were unwilling to go forward to end the crisis in Syria.

In an interview with Michele Kelemen of NPR, Secretary Clinon says she hammered out an agreement in Geneva last summer, largely negotiating with Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia to resolve the Syrian crisis.

She said the Russians were unwilling to go forward.

According to Ms. Clinton, the US had made it a position that the American government would not open the door to military action, but it wanted to take political action, economic action through the Security Council.

However, Ms. Clinton said unfortunately, once again, the Russians sided with Assad who knew that if they were able to implement the Geneva agreement that they had negotiated, that that would send a very clear signal that Assad was being isolated even further a signal to those around him, a signal to his troops, a signal to the region.

She says the US is responsible for driving through sanctions against Assad that have really limited his capacity to replenish his coffers and to provide funding needed to keep his military machine going.

In June 2012, amid the turmoil engulfing Syria, speculations began to surface that ties are strained as US and Russia disagee over the path forward to end crisis in Syria.

Secretary Clinton has stressed that the US government has made it clear to the Russians that the outcome they are most concerned about, which would be a sectarian civil war, is made more likely, not less likely, by the international community’s failure to take a strong position vis-a -vis the Assad regime.

Reports say Russia is still refusing to condemn the war crimes committed by the Syrian regime.

In October 2012, Russia and China vetoed a draft resolution that would have condemned the Assad regime. Russia opposed to the establishment of safe no-fly zones which means that Russia is explicitly supporting the war-crimes committed by the regime.

Media reports say Sergei Lavrov the Russian Foreign Minister blamed the opposition.

Reports say that Russia is deploying naval military ships in the Mediterranean in an apparent gesture of support for the Assad’s regime.

Some analysts reportedly believe that Russia is worried about its heavy investments in Syria. Russia reportedly invested $30 billion in energy and tourism infrastructure and it has a naval base in the Syrian coastal city of Tartous. Reports say Russia fears that one day the international community might act against one of its client states in the old Soviet Union.

U.S.-Russia relations are often an uneasy mix of competition and cooperation.

US has real and continuing differences with Russia. While it may be tempting to downplay Russia’s importance, the United States simply does not have that luxury.

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council; as one of the world’s largest nuclear powers; and as the world’s single largest producer of hydrocarbons, Russia’s strategic importance to the U.S. will matter for many years to come.

More than 100,000 Syrians have been killed since March 2011, 2.5 million are now refugees and more than 5 million have been displaced within the country.

Mina Fabulous
Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn't preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.