23 Oct 2018 14:59

Russia's refusal to supply arms to Syrian Kurds helped bring Moscow, Ankara closer on Syria - expert

MOSCOW. Oct 23 (Interfax) - The negative impact of the "Kurdish factor" on interaction between Moscow and Ankara in settling the Syrian crisis has significantly declined due to the stance of Russia, which has rejected the Kurdish militia's repeated requests for weapons, said the academic supervisor of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Oriental Studies Institute and an expert on Middle East conflicts, Vitaly Naumkin.

"It is known that the Kurdish factor was among the difficult issues [in the dialogue between Moscow and Ankara]. The influence of this factor on our relations has now seriously decreased. It is highly important for the situation in Syria, where we have managed to sort out disagreements over the most complex issues, including those linked with the Kurdish factor," Naumkin said at the conference "Russia and Turkey: Strategic Avenues of Multifaceted Cooperation" in Moscow on Tuesday.

The forum is being hosted by the Russian International Affairs Council and the Center for Strategic Research of the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

The position of Washington, which is providing support for the Syrian Kurds' armed units in hopes that this will help make their territory fully autonomous from the authorities in Damascus, has helped Russia and Turkey achieve a certain level of mutual understanding on the Kurdish factor, Naumkin said.

"Today we are observing serious disagreements between Turkey and the U.S. The Americans are relying on the Kurdish militia in their attempts to create a quasi-state [in northern Syria], which is in the interests of neither Turkey nor Russia. I need to note here that Russia, in spite of repeated requests from the Kurds, with whom good relations have been maintained, took our Turkish partners' concerns into account above all. And it has never agreed to requests to supply weapons there," the expert said.

"I think that our Turkish partners see this in a positive light," Naumkin said.