Ukraine and Syria go hand in glove as Russia and the US seek a way to resolve their differences the Washington Post admitted with both President Vladmir Putin and Secretary of State John Kerry addressing conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.
But a peace plan appears on the cards with Russian and US envoys to set to meet at the United Nations in New York on Friday to discuss a proposed peace plan for Syria.
“We agreed nobody should be forced to choose between a dictator and being plagued by terrorists,” Kerry bristled after his talks with Putin at the Kremlin.
“Together, we are looking for ways out of the most urgent crises,” Putin said as he sat down at opposite him with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on his right, the paper reported.
Kerry replied that Putin and President Obama had earlier both committed themselves to seek “an approach to try and deal with both Ukraine and that the sooner the Minsk agreement on Ukraine is implemented, the quicker the United States and European allies can roll back sanctions against Russia.
The Post saw it as an auspicious on how to end the fighting in eastern Ukraine, where Russia backs separatist rebels and supports the embattled government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Accompanied by Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs; Celeste Wallander, a senior official with the National Security Council; and the U.S. ambassador to Russia, John Tefft, Kerry reiterated the U.S. position that the primary threat in Syria comes from the Islamic State, on which both Washington and Moscow agreee.
“These are the worst of terrorists,” Kerry said of Islamic State militants. “They attack culture, history and all decency. And they leave no choice but for civilized nations to stand together, and to fight and push back and destroy them.”
Lavrov quietly parried said he also was prepared to discuss the “terrorism of ISIL not only in Syria but in Libya, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan but said that Moscow and Washington have widely divergent perceptions of the conflict in Ukraine. Lavrov also said the Russia wants to “exchange views” on the “Palestinian settlement” of their conflict with Israel.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was made the scapegoat with the US and its allies saying he must go, although they have climbed down from their earlier position that he leave immediately with Moscow convinced the Syrian army under Assad is best positioned to defeat the radicals
Kerry made mention of Russia reaching a nuclear agreement with Iran and “the contradictory roles Moscow is playing in relations with Washington” saying that the United States and its allies would maintain sanctions against Russia until it fully implements the February Minsk agreement end the fighting in eastern Ukraine which calls for a cease-fire, a Russian troop withdrawal and the return to Kiev of full control over its eastern border.
“We have made absolutely clear on every level, from the president on down, we are not playing ‘Let’s Make a Deal,’ trading Ukraine for Syria,” a State Department official said. “These are distinct issues, with distinct paths forward”, to leave the matter dangling..