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Russia eyes refugee return as centerpiece of next policy move in Syria

Moscow claims it's making progress in talks with Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey over the return of Syrian refugees; yet getting international organizations and the United States to cooperate on the refugee return and the reconstruction of Syria proves more challenging.
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MOSCOW — As Russia has been gradually moving from a military to a comprehensive political campaign on Syria, one of the primary issues on the agenda for Moscow is the return of refugees. The agenda pierces through current Russian engagements with regional states, overtures to foreign governments and outreach to international agencies. The three dimensions reflect Russia’s threefold intent at this point: stabilize Syria; reinforce its own regional profile of a capable actor and a reliable counter-partner; chart out areas of cooperation with the United States and the European Union. Yet the degree of success Moscow has had working along the three paths varies significantly.

Last week, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov praised progress Moscow made in discussions on the return of refugees with Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon — the region’s three biggest recipients of Syrian refugees.

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