‘Huge step forward’: Russia’s FM spox Zakharova on Syria peace commitments and challenges

The agreements reached by the International Syria Support Group in Munich, in spite of “unacceptable” provocations by Ankara and “ambiguous” US policies, have become an “important step” to peace in Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson told RT.

Maria Zakharova called the agreement on the nationwide cessation of hostilities one of the most significant results of the ISSG meeting in Munich. In an exclusive interview with RT she also welcomed the creation of “two special groups for resolving two problems” – delivering humanitarian aid and negotiating a ceasefire in Syria.

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson stressed that Russia was ready to cease fire even before the Munich meeting but other countries from the ISSG “were not so enthusiastic about cessation of hostilities or ceasefire.”

Establishing a direct dialogue between the militaries of all countries belonging to the ISSG was also crucially important for the peace process in Syria, she emphasized. It was Russia’s goal to make the militaries “talk directly, share real information about terrorists about everything that is going on the ground,” Zakharova told RT.

“So this time, fortunately, everybody agreed [on that] and put it on the paper, so this is … a huge step forward, this brings us real understanding,” she added.

Turkey’s Syria policy is a ‘road to nowhere’

During the interview, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson also addressed the issue of the ongoing Turkish shelling of Kurdish positions as well as of some settlements in the northern Syria denouncing it as “an absolutely unacceptable situation.”

Russia had already “raised this question many times in [the UN] Security Council and also during negotiations with our American colleagues,” Zakharova stressed, adding that Russia will “definitely” support Syria’s complaint to the UN Security Council over the Turkey’s provocative actions.

At the same time, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson criticized the “international community and the world media” for accusing Russia of contributing to the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Syria and paying “no attention towards what is going on… at the Turkish-Syria border” calling the shelling of Syrian settlements by the Turkish forces “a disaster.”

Speaking to RT Arabic in a separate interview, Maria Zakharova denounced the policy conducted by Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which is aimed at “bringing down the regime” in Syria and includes military as well as material and technical support to terrorist groups” as “road to nowhere.”

In terms of the Turkish shelling of Syrian territory, she said that Russia “will do everything possible to draw the attention of the international community [to this problem] and will use the whole arsenal of diplomatic means in order to resolve this issue.”

The situation at the Syrian-Turkish border is “egregious,” according to Zakharova, as Ankara’s policies provide for deployment of “fresh” terrorists to Syria and taking the wounded ones back to Turkey for treatment as well as buying oil from terrorist organizations.

Ankara consistently “damages the efforts” aimed at establishing peace in Syria, according to Zakharova. Turkey downed a Russian bomber soon after the ISSG reached an agreement in Vienna in November 2015, and now it undermines the results of the Munich ISSG meeting by shelling Kurds and the government forces in Syria, she stressed.

US policy in Syria is ‘ambiguous’

Russia and the United States are coordinating their efforts seeking to resolve the Syrian crisis, particularly in the military field, Zakharova told RT, adding that this cooperation between the two countries is much more limited than it could be because the US policy is still “ambiguous.”

“On the one hand, they [the US] have already acknowledged [the fact] that there is a terrorist threat in Syria… On the other hand, they have already stated the necessity to topple the regime and cannot admit their mistake,” she said in the interview.

“This dualism, this ambiguity is what forms the US policy: they understand that their policy was erroneous; that they should fight not Assad but terrorists; that terrorism was funded by… the money that were provided… by the western countries,” Zakharova added emphasizing that, at the same time, the US is still unable to “publicly confess to a mistake.”

Zakharova also doubted the effectiveness of any potential ground operation in Syria that could be launched by the US-led coalition emphasizing that there are too many obstacles and too much uncertainty that would prevent such operation from being properly planned and coordinated.

There is “a great chance” of ending the war in Syria if every side sticks to the agreements reached by the ISSG and fulfills its commitments in full. Zakharova stressed that the peace process is very much dependent on a dialogue between different Syrian forces, adding that both Damascus and some groups of Syrian opposition were “long ready for the negotiations.” At the same time she criticized the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia for their inability to effectively influence other opposition groups, which they back and sponsor, and bring to the table without preconditions.