Syrian PYD reportedly attempting to open office in Russia

Russian media claims Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party leaders will meet top Russian officials in Moscow to discuss various issues including opening diplomatic mission in Russia

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Russian deputy foreign minister Mihail Bogdanov spotted in a conference titled "Turkey-Russia: Empowerment of Multilateral Cooperation" organised by both Russian and Turkish think-tanks in Moscow on Oct. 15.

Updated Oct 21, 2015

Russian media outlet Kommersant has claimed that Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) leaders will meet Russian top officials in the country's capital Moscow in order to discuss several issues including the opening an official political mission of the PYD in the country.

Kommersant has alleged that the PYD leaders will meet Russian foreign ministry officials on Wednesday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry previously announced that Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov met with the PYD chairman Salih Muslim in early October to discuss the conflict in Syria. 

The main aim of the PYD opening an office in Russia would be to deepen collaboration in the fight against ISIS in Syria, the Russian newspaper stated.

The newspaper also cited a Turkish diplomatic source as saying that if Russia allows the PYD to open an office in Moscow, it will further damage relations between Russia and Turkey which are already deteriorating.

Turkey and Russia have prominently disagreed over how to resolve the Syrian civil war. Turkey and US have called on the Syrian autocrat Bashar al Assad to relinquish power, backing opposition groups, while Russia has supported the regime since the beginning of the conflict.

The pre-existing tensions worsened following the Russian military's open intervention in the Syrian conflict on the side of the Assad regime which began on Sept. 30.

Moreover, Russian fighter jets reportedly violated the Turkish airspace near the Syrian border in early October during a bombing campaign against mostly Syrian opposition-held territories in the country, leading to strong protests from Turkey, US, and the NATO alliance.

The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Russian ambassador to convey its displeasure at the breach, according to a statement released on Oct. 5.

The Russian ambassador was summoned by Ankara again following an alleged second violation of Turkish airspace by Russian warplanes.

In addition, Turkey on Oct. 14 summoned both the Russian and US ambassadors over their widely reported arming of the Syrian Kurdish group, the YPG, which is the armed wing of the PYD.

The YPG is considered to be the Syrian extension of the terrorist PKK by Turkey. Turkish state has been fighting against the terrorist group PKK for over 30 years. 

Russian ambassador Andrey Karlov said, “We have tackled various issues concerning our bilateral relations including conditions of Syrian Kurds. My Turkish colleague told me their concerns of our relations with the PYD,” in an interview with Russian news outlet Ria Novosti following his discussions with the Turkish Foreign Ministry.  

“According to them, the PYD is connected to the PKK which is illegal in Turkey. Russia’s international relations do not target interests of any country and do not threaten the interests of Turkey either,” he added.

However, “Both the PKK and the PYD are not recognised as terrorist organisations by neither Russia nor United Nations Security Council,” he also noted.

The PKK is recognised as a terrorist group by Turkey, the EU, US, and NATO. 

Turkey, US relations troubled by support for YPG

US State Department spokesperson John Kirby said last week that the US will continue to support the PYD as it does with other groups who are fighting against ISIS in Syria, during his daily press briefing on Oct. 15.

Kirby also said, “We understand the concerns of the Turkish government and continue to have discussions with them regarding their concerns, especially with respect to the Syrian Kurds."

Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu had earlier said that Turkey will destroy weapons delivered to YPG militants in northern Syria if they are transferred to the PKK or reach Turkish soil, recalling that US weapons supplied to the Iraqi army are now used by ISIS.

The Pentagon confirmed last Wednesday that its cargo planes dropped “small arms ammunition” for the newly-formed coalition led by the YPG, the armed wing of the PYD.

“The aircraft delivery includes small arms ammunition to resupply local forces to enable them to continue operations against Daesh [ISIS],” said Pentagon spokeswoman Elissa Smith.

Davutoglu said that Turkey has expressed its deepest concerns regarding the armed support given to the PYD by both the US and Russia “in the clearest way.”

“This is an issue of national security for us,” he added, following Ankara’s meetings with the respective countries' ambassadors.

The New York Times published a story on Oct. 14 on Turkey’s summoning of the ambassadors, suggesting "American and Russian interests inside Syria may converge” when it comes to backing the PYD. 

But “it could be developing into another point of contention, as the two sides compete for the Kurds’ affections,” the article added.

PKK no different than ISIS for Turkey

Meanwhile, PKK terror attacks have killed 148 security officials and over 30 civilians in Turkey since the group’s umbrella organisation, the KCK, unilaterally ended a two and half year-long ceasefire with the government on July 11.

Turkey has been targeted with increasing terror attacks by ISIS and PKK terrorist groups in its southeastern and eastern regions since a suicide bombing, widely thought to have been carried out by ISIS, in Suruc district of the Sanliurfa province claimed 34 lives on July 20.

The latest attack came in the capital Ankara on Oct 10 when twin suicide bombings targeted a march organised by left-wing labour unions, killing 102 people and injuring 500 others.

The Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office said in a written statement on Monday that one suspect in the twin bombings in the Turkish capital was identified as the brother of the Suruc suicide bomber.

TRTWorld and agencies