In a stunning reversal, and after days of fervid denials, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin has confessed the scope of the Russian air campaign is wider than previously admitted.
Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, described “well-known” militant groups were among targets of Russian airstrikes, but did not identify a particular group.
“These organizations (on the target list) are well-known and the targets are chosen in coordination with the armed forces of Syria.”
Peskov’s acknowledgement on Thursday contradicted earlier statements delivered by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Sergei Ivanov, Chief of the Presidential Administration.
In late September, Lavrov announced: “Rumors that the targets of these (Russian) strikes were not ISIS positions were groundless,” and inspired Lavrov to abruptly warn the world “don’t listen to the Pentagon” when addressing reporters prior to meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry.
Shortly after, Lavrov offered dark hints to the range of Russian airstrikes when he said:
“If it looks like a terrorist, if it acts like a terrorist, if it walks like a terrorist, if it fights like a terrorist, it’s a terrorist.”
Knowing further denials could not withstand challenges, the Kremlin used ambiguous language and slowly confessed to what could no longer be contained and what the world clearly apprehended.
The Russians have made no secret of their willingness to underpin the Assad regime. When the Kremlin’s pleas for cooperation from the White House were ignored or vilified, Moscow reacted in Syria independently and at the behest of Damascus.
Although diplomatic denials are a time-worn act, few should find fault with Russian efforts to buoy the current Syrian government when their overarching goal is the defeat of ISIS.
While the Assad regime is distasteful, its premature exodus may lay the way open for further disintegration in Syria at the moment where ISIS is the primary threat.
Acceding to a temporary measure of accepting Assad’s existence may be repugnant or crafty, but it should not be viewed as a permanent shift in American values in the Middle East.
Mr. Obama should re-consider his position on Assad or he will witness his foreign policy to continue to resemble groping in the dark.
[The Guardian] [The Independent] [Photo courtesy Beta.trtworld.com]