The shoe goes on the other foot says Moscow: Russia can cooperate -- if the US proves it really wants to separate Al-Nusra Front from other rebels first
After the spectacular failure of the American-Russian deal on Syria even Mr. Outreach, Russia's Sergey Lavrov seems to have had it.
In an interview with Russian TV he explained that Moscow is still working to salvage the ceasefire deal but that the shoe is really on the other foot at this time; Russia is no longer interested in delivering unilateral concessions solely for the hope they might pay off in the future. Cooperation is possible but only on a collective basis and if US clearly proves it really wants to separate the rest of anti-government groups from al-Qaeda.
“If everything is again reduced to requests for unilateral steps by Russia’s and videconferencing the Syrian Air Force saying ‘Give us another three or four day pause and then we will convince the opposition groups that this is serious and that they must disassociate themselves from Jabhat al Nusra’ - then such talk will no longer be taken seriously by us."
Lavrov explained this isn't a matter of pride -- the issue is that each time such pauses were granted they were used to reinforce and resupply the rebels including al-Qaeda. This naturally doesn't go down in Russia which is expending resources to rollback al-Qaeda and groups friendly to it.
"From now on we can talk about resurrecting the truce exclusively on a collective basis. There is nothing we have left to prove unilateraly, it is we who have to be shown there is a sincere intention to seperare the opposition from Jabhat al-Nusra."
In the contrary case “our suspicions this is all being done to relive al-Nusra from assault will strengthen" Lavrov added.
Russian FM also touched on the two incidents which buried the ceasefire, the US air raid against Syrian army positions in Deir ez-Zoir and the attack on an aid convoy in Aleppo:
- He confirmed that Americans apologized for wiping out 90 of their soldiers in Deir ez-Zor strikes.
- He explained that the Syrian-ISIS front line in Deir ez-Zor has been static for two years now and wondered how the US could forget "who was where".
- Said the Russians do not fly in the area where the UN aid convoy was hit, and the Syrians do not fly at night.
- The convoy was attacked on its way back, after it had already unloaded supplies for rebel-held East Aleppo.
- Syrian government did not impede access of aid convoys to East Aleppo -- but the rebels protested and even made threats against them.
The last point is easy to comprehend if one knows the convoys were Obama's requirement for Russian-American coordination. Establishing aid convoy traffic to rebel-held enclaves would mean US would join Russia in bombing al-Nusra rebels. Naturally this meant they had a huge incentive to find a way to interfere with the convoys.
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