Pro-war elements in the United States Federal Government and the US media have been clamouring for some sort of intervention against the Syrian government on behalf of the rebels there (who are being equipped and funded by the US and its client states throughout the region). Much of this centres around a planned ‘no-fly zone’ in which Syrian planes will not be permitted by the US to fly over Syria. The Obama Administration has tried to pressure Russia to go along with the plan but thus far the Putin government has refused. Over the weekend in a meeting between the two leaders, Putin continued to stand firm against US pressure on the Syrian conflict, as reported by The Guardian (UK):
Barack Obama and Russia’s president Vladimir Putin completed a bilateral meeting on the margins of the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, on Monday with an agreement that there should be a cessation of hostilities in Syria.
But, crucially, Obama failed to secure the support of Putin for regime change in Syria. The US president had been seeking Putin’s help in trying to persuade Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to relinquish power and leave the country.
A joint statement issued after their meeting said simply that the Syrian people should independently and democratically be allowed to decide their own future, but there was no joint call for Assad to stand down, as the White House has been urging.
Relations between the US and Russia have been cool for months over several issues, including continued concerns in Moscow over US missile plans for Europe as well as Syria.
The White House has publicly expressed frustration with Russia for its support for Syria, a Cold War ally, and its blocking of tougher United Nations actions against the Syrian government, such as sanctions.
There was little sign of rapprochment at Los Cabos, with Obama describing the discussion as ‘candid’, diplomatic-speak for disagreement. Their body language was poor too, with no smiles and little eye contact between the two in the short period in which journalists were invited in.
With fighting in Syria growing more intense, Moscow has also sent two ships and some marines to protect its base at Tartus (which has been leased by the Russians since 1971) and Russian citizens. USA Today covers the story:
Russia’s Interfax news agency reported that two Russian navy ships are prepared to head to Syria to protect Russian citizens and a naval base there.
“We must protect our citizens,” Maj. Gen. Vladimir Gradusov was quoted as saying. “We won’t abandon the Russians and will evacuate them from the conflict zone, if necessary.”
Each ship is capable of carrying up to 300 marines and a dozen tanks, according to Russian media reports. That would make it the largest known Russian troop deployment to Syria, signaling that Moscow is becoming increasingly uneasy about Syria’s slide toward civil war.