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How latest Astana talks between Turkey, Russia, Iran went beyond Syria

What the Astana guarantors agreed upon in Ankara will have implications for Syria but the way the leaders communicated past each other each is even more telling.
Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia, Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Hassan Rouhani of Iran chat following a joint news conference in Ankara, Turkey, September 16, 2019. REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RC1EF10953B0

MOSCOW — The fifth trilateral meeting today between the leaders of the guarantor states of the Astana process on the settlement in Syria could have been just another routine gathering of three of “today’s friends — centuries-old adversaries” if it were not for the complications that have emerged since the previous such meeting in Sochi on Feb. 14.

The smoldering tensions between Russia and Iran that overshadowed that encounter now have given full way to the Moscow-Ankara rift over Idlib. Putin was unwilling to come unprotected from all sides, so a day before he landed in Ankara the Russian Defense Ministry announced that Moscow had completed the second stage of S-400 deliveries to Turkey as a sign of being serious about its commitments to the agreements with Ankara. Meanwhile, Russia’s feelings about Turkey’s implementation of its own commitments remain sour.

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