US and Russia finally agree to work together on Syrian crisis
Highlighting the urgency to stop the ongoing bloodshed in Syria, the United States of America and Russia today affirmed commitment to try to implement the Geneva 1 principles, requiring a transitional government by mutual consent that has full executive authority in order to allow the people of Syria to decide the future of their country.
In his remarks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov after their meeting in Paris, US Secretary of State John Kerry says the meeting opens an opportunity to discuss the question of Syria and possible solutions to end the crisis.
“Let me just say I think Sergey would agree with me that both of us Russia, the United States are deeply committed and remain committed to trying to implement the Geneva 1 principles.” – Secretary Kerry
He underlines that both countries are committed to this and both want to make this conference happen, if possible, together with many other countries that have joined up.
According to Secretary Kerry, both parties talked through a number of issues, sort of when the conference might take place.
He says the success of the conference depends on the participants and the decisions that need to be made together with their friends and allies and the United Nations.
US and Russia discuss Syria’s humanitarian situation
Both countries talked about the participants which is an ongoing conversation.
In addition, both parties talked about the humanitarian situation, and both expressed mutual concerns about any potential use of chemical weapons and the need to really get the evidence and ascertain what has happened in that regard.
“Both Russia and the United States, if it were being used, object to that very, very strongly.” – Secretary Kerry
And also, both countries agreed that representatives of both of our governments, from the foreign ministry in Russia and the State Department in the United States, will meet as soon as possible in order to work through a number of these issues regarding how the conference could best be prepared for the possibility of success, not failure.
“And that’s our goal, and that’s what brought us here to Paris.” – Secretary Kerry
Russian says Syria’s conflict is not getting better
According to Foreign Minister Lavrov, the meeting is timely because the situation is not getting better on the ground.
He says both countries want to do everything in their efforts to stop the bloodshed and to reduce the sufferings of the Syrian people.
“And therefore we took stock today of where we are with the implementation of the Russian-American initiative which was launched when John visited Moscow on the 7th of May.” – Mr. Lavrov
Both countries concentrated on the need to determine the participants of the conference, first of all from the Syrian sides, the government and opposition groups as well.
In addition, the participants from outside circle can also decide who will participate in the conference.
He points out that the Geneva 1 participants have been accepted as the invitees, and he believes that this circle could be expanded to involve all key outside players who have influence on the situation on the ground.
The participants will find a way for Moscow to persuade various Syrian parties and the foreign countries to cooperate with them in the efforts to make this conference convene.
Mr. Lavrov indicates that it’s not an easy task, but he hopes that when the United States and Russian Federation take this kind of initiative, the chances for success are bigger.
“We will do everything in our power to use those chances and to make them realize.” – Mr. Lavrov
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 70,000 Syrians have been killed since March 2011, and hundreds of thousands have been displaced from their homes.