U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s spate of recent meetings with Russian officials are intended to chip away at the icy character of U.S.-Russian relations and bring Washington and Moscow closer together on Syria. The most recent meeting in Paris between Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in which Lavrov again indicated that Moscow would encourage the Syrian government to attend peace talks, was at the very least an improvement from last December when Lavrov declared that—when it comes to Bashar al-Assad—Russia is not a postman. Moscow’s signals are of little interest to pro-intervention policymakers in Washington, and pundits and journalists note that, thanks to Moscow’s military aid, government forces in Syria have formidable air defenses that are likely to knock American planes out of the sky. And so the international community continues to lay much of the blame on Russia for blocking mediation attempts and encouraging the Assad regime to fight on.
PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo No. 250
by George Gavrilis