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Russian senator views US-Turkey agreement on Syria as mostly positive

MOSCOW, October 18. /TASS/. The agreement suspending Ankara’s operation in Syria, reached by Washington and Ankara, is a mostly positive development, Chairman of the Russian Federation Council (the upper house of parliament) Foreign Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev wrote on Facebook.

"The agreement that the US and Turkey have reached on the Turkish military operation in Syria is largely a positive development, just like any effort to at least halt the use of force for a time if not stop it," the MP said.

According to Kosachev, Kurdish militia will have a chance to withdraw 30 km away from the Turkish border, out of the so-called safety zone — the goal of Ankara’s operation, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "It means first of all that the US has recognized Ankara’s right to establish such a zone. And second, it [the US] suggests that the Kurds and Damascus do the same to avoid further losses," the Russian senator pointed out.

At the same time, Kosachev believes that the situation is not as encouraging as US President Donald Trump has described it, calling the agreement an "incredible outcome." "The White House occupant’s goal is clear: he wants to show the world, or, more likely, the US Congress, that he is in control of the situation, that he has no issues with his friend Erdogan and everything is going according to plan. However, the Congress is not inclined to believe Trump and is working on new sanctions against Turkey," Kosachev noted.

The Russian senator emphasized that Ankara is already interpreting the agreement in a different way. "The Kurds’ attitude to the US-Turkey agreement is also unclear, because no one asked for their opinion whereas Washington’s influence on the Kurds has declined recently for obvious reasons. So a ceasefire is encouraging but it is hard to say what will happen next. And it’s not Washington with its agreements and sanctions that decides it," Kosachev stressed.

US-Turkey agreement

On Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US Vice President Michael Pence held talks in Ankara. Pence said following the meeting that the parties had agreed on a pause in the Turkish offensive in northern Syria to give Kurdish units time to leave the border safe zone that Ankara is creating. "The Turkish side will pause Operation Peace Spring in order to allow the withdrawal of YPG from the safe zone within 120 hours. Operation Peace Spring will be halted upon completion of this withdrawal," the agreement reads.

On October 9, Ankara announced the launch of Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria. The operation’s goal is said to be the creation of a buffer zone along the Turkish border, where, according to Ankara, Syrian refugees residing in Turkey could return. The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) slammed the operation as aggression. The international community condemned Ankara’s move.