Russia is in search of the ultimate deal with Syria.
At present, Washington is pressing Moscow to halt Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military offensive into southwestern Syria; Moscow, meanwhile, wants Washington to abandon the areas in Syria’s northeast that it has liberated from the Islamic State. With a summit between Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin looming, Russia may try to lure the United States into a deal that would largely benefit Assad, Iran, and the violent extremists they inspire. Or, Moscow may calculate that it can have its way without a deal.
The Assad regime is attacking an area designated a “de-escalation zone” under a 2017 understanding between Russia, Jordan, and the United States. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley recently implored the Assad regime to stop violating the ceasefire in Syria’s southwest, and said that the United States expects Russia to use its influence on Damascus to convince it to halt its destabilizing actions. “Russia will ultimately bear responsibility for any further escalations in Syria,” she said.