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Analysts warn US refusal to cooperate with Russia over Syria fans military risks

October 04, 18:12 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The interviewed analysts believe that a military scenario in Syria is now more likely than any other
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© Valeriy Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, October 4. /TASS/. The United States’ refusal to cooperate with Russia over Syria may eventually bring about a situation in which the Pentagon will begin to provide military and technical assistance to the opposition and trigger a proxy war against Bashar Assad’s army and the Russian aerospace group in Syria, experts told TASS after the US Department of State on Monday declared that bilateral contacts with Russia, established for maintaining truce in Syria, had been suspended.

The White House accused the Kremlin of defaulting on its obligations to maintain ceasefire in Syria.

"There is nothing more for the United States and Russia to talk about in regard to trying to reach an agreement that would reduce the violence inside of Syria," White House press-secretary Josh Earnest said on Monday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed regret and disappointment over Washington’s decision to terminate the dialog with Russia over the restoration of peace in Syria.

"We have an ever stronger impression that in its attempts to achieve the long-awaited change of power in Damascus Washington is prepared to make a compact with the devil," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a commentary.

Risky military scenario

The interviewed analysts believe that a military scenario in Syria is now more likely than any other.

The director of the Military-Political Studies Center at the institute of international relations MGIMO, Aleksey Podberyozkin, believes that Russian-US talks over Syrian settlement were pointless from the outset, because Moscow and Washington pursued conflicting aims all along.

"By and large the Americans were trying not to clinch a deal, but to gain tactical concessions," Podberyozkin said.

"A military scenario now looks the most logical option. The United States will step up military and technical support and financial assistance to the armed Syrian opposition and arm it with anti-aircraft weapons. US commandos will get more active in operations against Bashar Assad’s army, while avoiding direct clashes with Russia’s aerospace group," Podberyozkin speculated, adding he hoped that "the White House has enough willpower not to develop a steep dive into a military conflict with Russia."

Podberyozkin does not rule out attacks against Russia’s aerospace base in Latakia and the Russian Navy’s logistic facility in Tartus. "In the Middle East there are quite a few people who are prepared to fight for big money and to participate in a proxy war. We should be ready for that," he said.

The president of the National Strategy Institute, Mikhail Remizov, too, believes that the United States’ refusal to cooperate with Russia in Syria "opens the window" for a military solution around besieged Aleppo.

"The White House’s demarche may entail growing US support for the jihadists and the armed opposition, including the supplies of portable air defense complexes. This will increase the risks for the Syrian government army and for the Russian aerospace group, too," warns Remizov, a member of the Russian government’s military-industrial commission.

"Will Moscow respond to this challenge with a build-up of its military presence in Syria or curtail the operation? As follows from the reports Russia has begun to supply Syria with air defense systems S-300 Antey-2500, the former option has been selected. It is a matter of image. The defense component of the Russian aerospace group is to be reinforced," Remizov believes.

Is a compromise possible?

Analysts predict that the United States and Russia may go ahead with the search for a political compromise for a Syrian settlement, but this may happen no earlier than the current US Administration’s tenure is over.

"There are scores of frozen armed conflicts around the world. Possibly, future talks among the United States, Russia, the Bashar Assad government and the opposition forces will produce agreements on separating Syria into zones of responsibility," Podberyozkin speculates.

"In all likelihood the negotiating parties will seek to achieve precisely this way of overcoming the Syrian crisis - the separation of the country into several zones of control," Remizov agrees. "But as long as the current election campaign in the United States is on, nobody will dare assume the responsibility for such a fundamental decision."

In relations with Russia the hardliners in the US Department of State set the tune, he explains.

"Only a future US president will be able to make a fundamental decision regarding the Syrian settlement," Remizov forecasts.

The deputy director of the Institute of US and Canada Studies, Major-General Pavel Zolotaryov, retired, said that new agreements with the current US Administration on coordinated efforts for the sake of a ceasefire in Syria are unlikely.

"The Russian aerospace group will continue to provide fire support for Bashar Assad’s army. And the United States will be accusing Russia of civilian casualties. This vicious circle will remain," he said.

"The best way out in the current context for both sides will be to pour out mutual complaints before each other now. When a new Administration takes over, it might be possible to start correcting errors, if not resetting relations altogether. Both Russia and the United States are confronted with major common challenges," Zolotaryov said.

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