Russia backs Syrian army because it’s most effective force in fighting ISIS - Ambassador Yakovenko

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
Russia backs Syrian army because it’s most effective force in fighting ISIS - Ambassador Yakovenko
Our Western colleagues regularly claim Russia pursues in Syria goals other than fighting terrorists. Increasingly, it becomes fashionable in the West to blame Russia for everything, based on rumors, speculation, and fake information.

The same thing here. They prefer to ignore the fact the Syrian army is the most effective force on the ground in fighting ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, and their likes. And that is precisely the reason why the Russian Air Force is supporting government troops and coordinating joint efforts. It has always been our position of principle from the very start, open and transparent. If Russia were not interested in tackling jihadists, why would President Vladimir Putin have put forward a plan to establish a common front against terrorists in Syria and elsewhere? While our Western partners cling to their own anti-ISIS coalition, the Russian military has been securing local ceasefires throughout Syria and providing humanitarian assistance to the Syrians on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, openness and consistency are lacking on the part of the West. It was reported in the US media that former US Secretary of State John Kerry, talking to some Syrian opposition figures, hadn’t denied the US had been counting on the terrorists to engineer a regime change in Syria. Probably, hoping to domesticate them afterward with the help of their regional allies. It’s enough to listen to Peter Ford, former British Ambassador in Damascus, to understand that there is no moderate secular opposition alternative to the present Syrian government.

The complexities of the Syrian situation require a creative and professional diplomacy, which Russia together with Turkey and Iran has been conducting over the past few months. It bears fruit if not obstructed by the swinging mood in Washington. I mean the recent attack against a Syrian Air Force base. This act of aggression against a sovereign state and the preceding chemical incident show that as long as there is a political demand in the West for this type of provocation, there will always be incidents like this to get the West militarily involved on the side of those who are fighting the Syrian government.

Only a clear-cut policy of the West that respects the right of the Syrians to decide for themselves will leave no incentives on the part of the opposition/terrorists to engineer these horrible deaths of innocent civilians to frame the Syrian government. We do hope that our Western partners will understand that and won’t stand in the way of an impartial, independent investigation conducted by the competent international authority, which is the OPCW.

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