Russian Foreign Ministry : Regime Change in Syria to Become Global-scale Disaster

MOSCOW, November 3. /TASS/. Bashar al-Assad remaining in power in Syria is not a principled aspect for the Russian Federation, but the change of regime in that country would be a global-scale disaster, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mariya Zakharova said Tuesday.

“We have never said Assad’s staying in power is a principled aspect. We are saying that the change of regime in Syria could become a disaster not only on a local or even regional scale, but, with account for that problem with refugees that we have now, this could become a big black hole,” Zakharova said on the Ekho Moskvy radio.
According to UN statistics, fighting between Syrian government troops and militants has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions since its start in 2011.

An international peace conference on Syria, dubbed Geneva-2, organized by Russia and the United States and designed to negotiate a solution to the Syrian crisis, held in January and February 2014, brought no particular progress.

Statehood in Syria is a key aspect in the fight against terrorism, Zakharova underscored. “If there’s no Syrian statehood, there will be no one to fight terrorists on the ground,” she said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said that the recent Vienna multisided talks on Syrian settlement did not discuss the issue of Syria’s government. “The fate of the president should be decided by the Syrian people,” she said.

Russia launches airstrikes against IS in Syria

Russian Aerospace Forces started a military operation against the Islamic State terrorist group (which is banned in Russia) in the Syrian territory at the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on September 30. The air group in Syria includes more than 50 warplanes, including Su-34 and Su-24M bombers; Su-25 assault aircraft; Su-30SM fighter jets as well as Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters. The Russian Navy is also involved in the military operation. The warships of the Russian Caspian flotilla delivered a massive cruise missile strike from the Kalibr-class sea-based missile system on the night to October 7.

The Russian authorities have totally excluded a possibility of any ground campaign in Syria.

Russian Foreign Ministry praises Defense Ministry’s contacts with Syrian opposition

MOSCOW, November 3. /TASS/. Contacts between Russia’s Defense Ministry and moderate Syrian opposition are useful for the political process, special representative of the Russian president for the Middle East and African countries, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Tuesday.

“The Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation knows about these contacts, we confirm their fruitful nature,” the high-ranking diplomat said.

“These contacts of the Russian military department with representatives of moderate Syrian opposition look extremely timely and useful to us, both from the viewpoint of fight against terrorists and for promotion of the political process,” Bogdanov said.

Russia started a military operation against the Islamic State terrorist group in the Syrian territory at the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on September 30. The air group in Syria includes more than 50 warplanes, including Su-34 and Su-24M bombers; Su-25 assault aircraft; Su-30SM fighter jets as well as Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters.

The Russian pilots have made 1,631 combat sorties and delivered air strikes at 2,084 terrorist facilities since the military operation started, Kartapolov told journalists on November 3 confirming that Russia had no intention to participate in land operations in Syria.

Russian, US, Saudi lists of opposition eligible for talks with Damascus partially coincide

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria ZakharovaMOSCOW, November 3. /TASS/. Russia’s, the United States’ and Saudi Arabia’s lists of Syrian opposition representatives who could be invited for talks with Damascus partially coincide, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Tuesday.

“We have prepared our vision,” she told the Ekho Moskvy radio station. “It is not based on political speculation or political preferences. We have been working with these organizations, both in Moscow and in European capitals and in the Middle East, for four years.”

“The lists partially coincide,” she said, adding that the United States and Saudi Arabia had added some other organizations to their lists.

At a meeting of Russia, US, Saudi and Turkish foreign ministers in Vienna on October 29, the Russian side handed over to the partners a list of 38 representatives of Syrian opposition who could be invited for talks with the current Syrian authorities.

Zakharova also said Russia’s stance on the Syrian settlement remains unchanged.

“Fresh attempts have been made by Western media to present things in a way that Russia allegedly changed its stance on the future of Syrian (President Bashar al-Assad),” Zakharova said.

“I can confirm that the Russian stance on the Syrian settlement remains unchanged,” she added.

According to Zakharova, Moscow has never said whether it supports or does not support President al-Assad. “The Russian side has pursued a clear line that the Syrian people should decide the future of the president of a sovereign Syria,” the Russian diplomat said.

“It is fundamentally important for us to preserve the Syrian statehood. All these basic principles have remained unchanged. They are fixed in the Geneva communique; the United Nations Security Council documents and the Vienna statement of the Contact Group for Syria adopted on October 30.

“We are going to curb any attempts by Western media to distort the Russian approach to the Syrian settlement by juggling with quotations,” the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.