MOSCOW – President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday at an investment conference that Russia is not striving for leadership over Syria, adding that existing cooperation with Western countries over the Syrian conflict was not enough.
Russia, the United States and Europe should encourage political dialogue between the sides of the Syrian conflict, Putin added.
Putin also said that Turkey was one of Russia’s most important partners, and that Russia needed to understand how to build relations with Turkey to fight terrorism.
A Russian defeat of Islamic State (IS) would hold out the prospect of the restoration of Syria and Iraq as nation states within their original post-colonial borders that would be governed by regimes sympathetic and grateful to Moscow.
For now, Putin has support from Russia’s predominantly Sunni Muslim community that opposes IS. That support could wane if Russia were to emerge as the major force in stymying non-IS Sunni Muslim rebels in achieving their goals in Syria.
Russia’s air force has made 88 sorties, hitting 86 Islamic State targets in Syria in the last 24 hours, Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday, citing a defense ministry representative.
The targets were hit in Ragga, Hama, Idlib, Latakia and Aleppo regions, it added.