In one of those little hidden news items tucked away in an Indian online media outlet comes this surprise of all surprises. To clarify its position with regard to Assad, Russia made its choice know and it is not Assad. In fact, the foreign ministry said Russia opposes Assad, and backs the authority of a legitimate government.
Since Assad has played both sides of the coin as a matter of politics, the Russian foreign ministry accused him of being a western puppet.
Below is the full article published by India’s Business Standard.
The Russian government said on Sunday that it supports legitimate authority in Syria, not Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad personally.
“We are supporting not Assad (himself). Do not forget: he has not been the best friend of ours, but he has been the friend of West,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters.
“We have backed the maintenance of the legitimate government, of power, because we have understood that if the president leaves, the government will follow him, the executive authorities as well as the army will disintegrate,” RIA Novosti news agency quoted Zakharova as saying.
She reiterated that Russian air forces were deployed to Syria to prevent collapse of the country and to fight with terrorism in the Middle East, not to support Assad in the civil war.
After conducting anti-terror airstrikes in Syria for over five months, Russian air forces started withdrawal of main forces on March 15 under the order of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the agreement of Assad.
Russia has been supporting the Assad administration in Syria, which led to disputes with the US and its allies as they insisted Assad to step down.
Maybe John Kerry and Vladimir Putin did agree on an alternative to Assad after all during Kerry’s last trip to Russia.
Maybe Putin realized that as long as Assad remains in power, Islamists and Jihadists will keep coming.
If Russia is abandoning Assad, Syrians and the West can now finally concentrate, in a post-Assad era, on defeating ISIS and the radicals.