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Russia deepens Turkey’s Syrian impasse

Moscow’s increasing military support for the Assad regime makes a reassessment of Ankara’s Syria policy essential.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) attends a news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in Strelna near St. Petersburg, November 22, 2013. Putin said on Friday Western states must persuade the Syrian opposition to attend talks with President Bashar al-Assad's government which he said should take place as soon as possible.  REUTERS/Aleksey Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Kremlin (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS CONFLICT) 


Russia’s latest military moves in Syria — which include renovating and expanding the airport at Latakia, the dispatch of hundreds of military advisers to train regime forces and the supply of advanced weaponry to the Syrian army — have compounded Turkey’s frustration with this ongoing crisis. Moscow's activities, details of which can be found in Fehim Tastekin's Sept. 11 article for Al-Monitor, represent another spanner in the works thwarting Turkey’s desire to see the earliest possible demise of Bashar al-Assad and his regime.

As Tastekin notes, Russia’s moves may have also sounded the death knell for what little hope there had been for the establishment of the “safe zone” Turkey wants to establish along its border with Syria. Ankara says the zone will be allocated for refugees as well as moderate groups fighting the Assad regime. Moscow argues that such a zone would violate Syrian sovereignty. The issue remains academic at this stage, however. The establishment of a safe zone has only received tenuous support from the United States and Turkey’s other NATO allies, which have not shown any interest in supplying the ground forces necessary to protect it.

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