In Feature Articles, Multipolarity, Russia

Published on the website of the President of Russia, Feb 22, 2016  (and further news below)

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Friends,

I just had a telephone conversation with President of the United States of America Barack Obama. The phone call was initiated by the Russian side, but the interest was certainly mutual.

During our conversation, we approved joint statements of Russia and the U.S., as co-chairs of the ISSG, on the cessation of hostilities in Syria. Adoption of the statement was preceded by intensive work by Russian and American experts. We also made use of the positive experience we accumulated over the course of cooperation in eliminating chemical weapons in Syria.

Our negotiators held several rounds of closed consultations. As a result, we were able to reach an important, specific result. It was agreed that the cessation of hostilities in Syria commences at 00:00 (Damascus time) on February 27, 2016 on terms and conditions that are a part of the Russian-American statement.

The essence of these conditions is as follows: by 12:00 pm on February 26, 2016, all parties warring in Syria must indicate to the Russian Federation or our American partners their commitment to the cessation of hostilities. Russian and American troops will jointly delineate the territories where these groups are active. No military action will be taken against them by the Armed Forces of the Syrian Arab Republic, Russian Armed Forces and the U.S.-led coalition. In turn, the opposition will cease all military action against the Armed Forces of the Syrian Arab Republic and other groups supporting them.

ISIS, Jabhat Al-Nursa, and other terrorist organisations designated by the United Nations Security Council, are excluded from the cessation of hostilities. Strikes against them will continue.

It is fundamentally important that Russia and the U.S., as co-chairs of the ISSG, are prepared to launch effective mechanisms to promote and monitor compliance with the ceasefire by both the Syrian Government and the armed opposition groups.

To achieve this goal, we will establish a communication hotline and, if necessary, a working group to exchange relevant information. Russia will conduct the necessary work with Damascus and the legitimate Syrian leadership. We expect that the United States will do the same with regard to their allies and the groups they support.

I am sure that the joint actions agreed upon with the American side will be enough to radically reverse the crisis situation in Syria. We are finally seeing a real chance to bring an end to the long-standing bloodshed and violence. As a result, humanitarian access to all Syrian citizens in need should be made easier.

Most important is the creation of conditions for launching a long-term political process through a broad inter-Syrian dialogue in Geneva, under the auspices of the UN.

Unfortunately, recent history has many examples where one-sided actions not sanctioned by the UN, which favour short-term political or opportunistic interests, have led to dramatic results. These examples are on everyone’s lips: Somalia, Iraq, Libya, Yemen.

Against this background, Russian-American agreements on the cessation of hostilities in Syria, and their joint implementation in coordination with all nations participating in the International Syria Support Group, can become an example of responsible actions the global community takes against the threat of terrorism, which are based on international law and UN principles.

I would like to hope that the Syrian leadership and all our partners in the region and beyond will support the set of actions chosen by representatives of Russia and the U.S.

Read also:

Syrian government accepts halt to ‘combat operations’

Reuters, Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016  (full text)

The Syrian government said on Tuesday it has accepted a halt to “combat operations” that does not include the Islamic State group, the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, or groups connected to it, in line with a US-Russian plan.

It said it would coordinate with Russia to decide which groups and areas would be included in the “cessation of hostilities” plan which is due to take effect on Saturday according to the US-Russian plan.

In a statement, the government stressed the importance of sealing the borders and halting foreign support to armed groups and “preventing these organisations from strengthening their capabilities or changing their positions, in order to avoid what may lead to wrecking this agreement.”

The Syrian government announced “its acceptance of a halt to combat operations on the basis of continuing military efforts to combat terrorism against Daesh, the Nusra Front, and the other terrorist organisations linked to it and to the al Qaeda organization, according to the Russian-American announcement.”

Daesh is an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The Syrian military reserved the right to “respond to any breach by these groups against Syrian citizens or against its armed forces,” the statement added.

Kerry issues warning as Syrian parties back halt to fighting, Reuters, Feb 23, 2016

The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and rebel groups have accepted a plan for a cessation of hostilities to begin on Saturday and the United States warned it would be hard to hold the country together if the fighting does not stop.

*****

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