The Guardian- A theme emerging from Astana is that Russia is prepared to do more than ever to negotiate an end to the conflict
Russia and Turkey had much on the line at the Astana peace talks, but at the end of the two-day summit on Syria, their returns were – at face value – modest. The gathering culminated in a predictable communique, endorsed by Iran, which aims to strengthen a nominal ceasefire in place since 30 December.
But other, more enduring, themes emerged from the gathering. First, Russia, one of the six-year war’s main protagonists, is serious about negotiating an end to the conflict and is prepared to do more than ever to achieve that. Second, although the Assad regime is winning on the battlefield with the robust backing of Moscow and Iran, it has a relatively weak diplomatic hand.
The long predicted moment when Russia will need to declare its intentions towards Bashar al-Assad is closer than ever. So too is a reckoning for the Syrian leader with his other patron, Iran, against whom Russia and Turkey have increasingly sided since Iranian-backed forces led the recapture of Aleppo.
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