Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Sochi on Tuesday to discuss efforts to end the Syrian civil war. The presidents of Iran and Turkey are scheduled to meet Putin on Wednesday as Russia promises to scale back its military presence in Syria and push for a diplomatic solution.
Sino-Russian alignment in support of the Assad government in Syria is driven primarily by the mutual goal of preventing regime change and halting the spread of Islamic extremism. However, because Chinese strategic priorities lie elsewhere and Russia’s tactic of protracting military conflict in Syria contradicts Beijing’s long-term strategic interests, the prospect of future Sino-Russian cooperation in Syria is limited. This Peace Brief examines the forces driving this cooperation as well as its limits.
When 5,000 people flooded into a city of 500,000 in one night with little more than the pajamas on their backs, they were greeted by the mayor and an assemblage of churches and civic groups ready to embrace them with shelter, food, clothing and moral support. The scene might sound like something from Europe’s west, where refugees are flooding in from the Middle East and Africa. But this is Ukraine in the midst of a war and an economic crisis, and two years into upheaval, the strain is beginning to show.