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Russia holds firm on Syria

Moscow is clinging tightly to its Syria policy, believing that the regime is the best option for controlling the Islamic State and worrying over the economic situation that will inevitably emerge from the conflicts there.
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (center R) meets a Russian governmental delegation headed by deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin (center L), in Damascus, in this handout photograph distributed by Syria's national news agency SANA on May 24, 2014. REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CONFLICT CIVIL UNREST) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS D

Despite developing relations with a number of Arab states that wish to see the toppling of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, Russia is not changing its position on Syria. At the same time, although Moscow seems to be acting without a backward glance at Iran, some experts believe it will take into account certain nuances in Iran's regional policy. In Russian official circles, Damascus is considered the force most capable of stopping the jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) and other terrorist organizations, and cooperation with the Syrian government is vital to the struggle against IS. Moscow is decisively against classifying the extremists as “bad” or “good,” viewing such positions by Western and some regional countries as short-sighted. Russian analysts are also expressing concern over the extremely complicated economic situation in Syria as a result of the bloody and destructive conflict.

At the Oct. 22-24 meeting of the Russia-Syria intergovernmental commission on trade, economic and scientific research cooperation in Sochi, Russian and Syrian representatives discussed how to strengthen cooperation between the two countries. On Oct. 23, Kommersant, citing economic sources in the Russian government, reported that Syrian representatives led by Minister of Finance Ismail Ismail were going to ask Russia to grant them a state credit in the amount of $1 billion. Syria is badly in need of these funds to support its currency exchange rate and to fulfill social commitments. According to the publication, the Russian Finance Ministry responded coolly, probably taking into account both Russia's own complexities caused by sanctions and the fact that all official Syrian financial organizations are sanctioned by the United States and European Union. At the commission's previous meeting in May, the decision was made to provide a 240 million euro ($300 million) grant to Syria to resolve a number of social problems.

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