EU says Russia boosting support to Assad to prevent collapse

EU Foreign Affairs Chief Federica Mogherini says Russia is stepping up its military presence in Syria to sustain Assad’s regime

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini poses for photographers

The European Union's Foreign Policy Chief, Federica Mogherini said on Saturday that Russia is boosting its military support to Syria in order to prevent the collapse of the Bashar al Assad regime, Al Jazeera reports.

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov has told Mogherini that boosting the military support to Syria, prevents the collapse of the Syrian state.

Mogherini also said that according to reports, 500 Russian troops have been deployed to a forward operating base in the Syrian port city of Latakia.

"His fear is of a complete collapse of the state structures in Syria; this could be one of the reasons Russia is talking in this way, but it could also be willingness to show that Russia is an important, substantial player," she said.

According to US officials, in early September, 28 Russian fighter jets were spotted deployed at the Bassel al Assad airport in Latakia, while Russian media has confirmed that around 1,700 Russian military specialists have been deployed to Tartus.

Tartus is Russia’s only naval repair base in the Mediterranean, and it is the key to maintaining any kind of substantial Russian naval presence in the region.

Leaders from EU and the US are at the UN headquarters in New York, and are discussing the future role of the Syrian leader Bashar al Assad, who is a close ally of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

James Bays, reporter from Al Jazeera stresses that there are different views about Assad.

"There are different views among European leaders and some, including the UK, have floated the idea that perhaps Assad could stay on for a transitional period,” he said.

On the other hand, the US and EU have approached Iran to find a solution for the Syrian conflict.

US Secretary of State, John Kerry and Mogherini discussed the issue with the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif at the UN General Assembly in New York.

US President Barack Obama and Putin are scheduled to have a meeting on Monday. Meeting will address the Russian presence in eastern Ukraine and in Syria.

Putin ahead of the meeting with Obama said that US support to rebels in Syria is illegal and ineffective, referring to the small group of US-trained Syrian fighters who have handed over American equipment and ammunition to Nusra Front in exchange for safe passage.

"In my opinion, provision of military support to illegal structures runs counter to the principles of modern international law and the United Nations Charter," he said to the US television networks CBS and PBS.


TRTWorld and agencies