Reflections

Russia Tries the Diplomatic Approach in Syria

May 12, 2017 | 00:23 GMT
Smoke rises from an airstrike on Jobar, a rebel-held district on the eastern outskirts of Damascus. As Russia is discovering, it will be difficult to disengage from the conflict it has become embroiled in.
Smoke rises from an airstrike on Jobar, a rebel-held district on the eastern outskirts of Damascus. As Russia is discovering, it will be difficult to disengage from the conflict it has become embroiled in.
(AMMAR SULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

For months, Russia has been looking for a way out of the Syrian conflict. Moscow is working to devise an exit strategy that will enable it to both safeguard its interests in the war-torn country and avoid getting stuck in a quagmire there. To that end, Russia proposed a plan during the latest round of peace talks in Kazakhstan to set up "de-escalation zones" in Syria. Iran and Turkey agreed to the deal, and Moscow has since pressed the United States to join in. The issue figured prominently in U.S. President Donald Trump's conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov when the two met in Washington on Wednesday. Though the de-escalation zone initiative -- Russia's latest attempt to ease its way out of Syria and improve its standing with the United States -- is a risky one, it has several factors working in its favor. Still, its success is far...

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