Assad’s departure still non-starter for Putin

Maxim Suchkov writes that following the visit of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Moscow this week, “the departure of President Bashar al-Assad was and remains a non-starter for Russia. What neither Lavrov nor Putin would probably say to Tillerson, but do expect him to understand, is that Russia has invested so much into Syria now, politically and militarily, that Moscow’s primary concern is less about Assad than about the principle, power and prestige of maintaining its position. Hence, any plan that might move Moscow from this standing would have to involve some face-saving mechanism that the Kremlin could package as a win-win internationally, and as a ‘decision made in Russia’s best interest’ domestically.”

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