(U.S. News & World Report) WASHINGTON — In a surprise move that he said he hoped would bolster Syria peace talks, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he would start to withdraw most Russian military forces from Syria starting March 15. The decision to partly withdraw from Syria, which Putin said he discussed during a phone call with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad March 14, is likely to put pressure on the Assad regime to negotiate more seriously at UN-hosted peace talks with the opposition, which resumed in Geneva on March 14. The decision follows remarks from Syria’s foreign minister over the weekend that any talk of Assad’s future was a “red line” at the Geneva talks. […]
Samuel Charap, a Russia expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said Putin had largely achieved his objectives.
“His objective was to force the US and its allies to the bargaining table on his terms,” Charap told Al-Monitor March 14. “He achieved that objective. Beyond that, an extended, large military presence in Syria doesn't really do much for him. It's more of a liability than an asset.”
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