Support The Moscow Times!

Russia Optimistic on UN Efforts to Resolve Syria Crisis

Civil Defence members and civilians inspect a site hit by what activists said was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo's al-Fardous district Apr. 14.

GENEVA — The latest UN efforts to resolve the Syria crisis could succeed this time and lead to a united front against Islamic State followed by a political transition, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva said.

Earlier this week, the United Nations said its Syria envoy would launch fresh consultations with Syrian factions and interested countries on a new round of peace talks, a year after the last such initiative collapsed.

However, Russian envoy Alexei Borodavkin said there was reason to hope for better results now, arguing that both mainstream Syrian opposition and government negotiators increasingly recognized that there was no military solution to the four-year-old civil war, that has killed more than 220,000.

Borodavkin said the fact that some opposition negotiators were no longer supported by a meaningful military, also helped.

"The Free Syrian Army was partly defeated, partly joined the extremist forces of Daesh," he said, using an Arabic term for Islamic State. "This in itself is not a positive development, but this is reality, and the opposition should recognize that."

While the FSA is a much diminished force, insurgent groups have recently made significant gains against Syrian President Bashar Assad, including mainstream rebels, who seized the Nasib border crossing with Jordan this month.

Russia has forcefully backed Assad in the war, rejecting calls from the opposition and West for him to stand aside.

While the main, Western-backed political opposition alliance sticks to this position, Borodavkin said some opponents were no longer insisting he must step down.

"I do believe that we have to focus not on personalities but on the objective to stop bloodshed first of all, and to fight Daesh together," he said.

The Islamic State, a radical Sunni Muslim force which holds swathes of Syria and Iraq, remains the single most powerful player out of a multitude of insurgents — from radical jihadists to more secular-minded Syrian nationalists.

Borodavkin said the emergence of Islamic State as an enemy for both the government and political opposition had created common ground.

"They will share the same fate, and that naturally encourages their rapprochement," he said. "Opposition, government and the outside forces should join efforts in fighting this threat."

Many diplomats are pessimistic over the UN's chances of ending the Syrian bloodshed. However, Borodavkin said efforts by UN Syrian envoy Staffan de Mistura to secure a local cease-fire in Aleppo had helped build confidence.

"They made some concessions, they were looking for consensus and compromises. And that is important. This is changing the mentality of the parties concerned, from hostility to a pattern of negotiations."

Syrian rebels rejected the Aleppo plan last month, saying it would only benefit the government.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more