ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, in his annual press conference on Wednesday, affirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin would tell Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is expected to visit Moscow soon, that all of Syria should be under the control of Damascus.
The Russian Foreign Minister raised the issue by pointing to the idea of a 21-mile buffer zone, which was requested by Turkey after US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of American troops from Syria. He underlined that the Russian position was “to restore [full] control [of the Syrian territory] to the central government.”
“This will certainly be discussed when president Erdogan arrives for the next rounds of talks with Putin,” he explained. For Moscow, the Foreign Minister suggested, the establishment of a Turkish-manned safe zone remains out of the question.
According to the Russian minister, “the immediate goal is to restore Syria’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and this is something the US, Turkey, Russia, and all other member states of the UN have subscribed to.”
Indeed, on Monday, Trump tweeted that a 20-mile “safe zone” would be created in northeastern Syria. His Turkish counterpart, President Erdogan, on Tuesday further asserted they would set up a security zone some 30-kilometers (18 miles) deep into northeastern Syria in coordination with the US.
However, top Syrian Kurdish official Aldar Xelil told ANHA news agency that the Kurdish self-administration would not accept a Turkish-controlled safe zone.
“We would not accept that. We can accept a security area under the auspices of the UN,” but not Ankara, Xelil argued.
Erdogan is set to visit Russia on Jan. 23, to discuss the situation in Idlib and the US’ decision to withdraw its troops from Syria.
“I am highly likely to meet with Putin on Wednesday, January 23,” Erdogan said on Tuesday, adding that “a trilateral meeting with [Iranian President Hassan] Rouhani and Putin is on the agenda,” reported Tass News Agency.
Adding to that statement, the Russian Foreign Minister noted that the security interests of “all neighbors of Syria” should be taken into account regarding any final settlement to the war-torn country’s political crisis, including Turkey’s.
Lavrov also believes weapons, territories, and military facilities in Syria belonging to the US or under their control should be handed over to “the Syrian government, the Syrian Armed Forces, and the Syrian administrative structures, with the understanding that the Kurds should be provided for with all necessary conditions.”
The Russian official welcomed ongoing talks between officials of the Democratic Autonomous Administration (DAA) of North and East Syria and the Syrian government.
“We welcome and support contact that has now begun between Kurdish representatives and the Syrian authorities in order to agree on how to restore life, within a single state, without external interference,” he added.
Nevertheless, Trump and Erdogan have been in talks over the future of Syria’s northeast. Less than 24 hours after the US President tweeted, “Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit the Kurds,” the two spoke by telephone.
As well, in recent weeks, delegations from the Kurdish-led administration and the Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF) leading component, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), have met Russian officials in Moscow and at the Hmeimim military base in Syria to reach an agreement with Damascus on local self-rule.
Following talks in December, the Russian military police started joint patrols with the al-Bab Military Council, which is linked to the SDF on Jan. 7 in Arima, near Manbij city.
Editing by Nadia Riva