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Putin holds closed meeting with Merkel
With Russian warplanes bombing Syria for a third day, French President Francois Hollande told President Vladimir Putin on Friday that Moscow’s airstrikes must be confined to attacking Islamic State militants, not other rebels opposing the Damascus government.
The so-called Normandy Four meeting assessed all elements of the deal, including the staging of local elections in the rebel-held regions and the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of contact.
French President Francois Hollande (L) shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin after a summit on the Ukraine crisis at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
“Prove it” was the Russian response to every Ukrainian accusation, and every time proof was delivered Moscow declared itself dissatisfied with it. No wonder: The Kremlin is not engaged in an academic debate in which either side can be persuaded by proof.
The two countries are not officially “coordinating” their airstrikes but inform each other to avoid problems, the official said.
Now, within Russian Federation, state-controlled media may describe these events as an example of a resurgent Russian Federation – a view shared, by the way, by a number of USA politicians and commentators who have always been deeply skeptical of Russian Federation, and seem to be convinced a new Cold War is, in fact, upon us.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he felt “cautious optimism” on the results of Friday’s talks, Interfax Ukraine quoted him as saying. That’s what he did as the conflict in eastern Ukraine developed, denouncing Ukrainian troops as neo-Nazi executioners to make it clear they were fair game.
The fighting in eastern Ukraine has dwindled significantly in recent weeks, but tensions remain over the final status of the rebel regions.
Activists say the Islamic State group did not hold Friday prayers in several mosques in its de facto capital of Raqqa in northern Syria, fearing Russian airstrikes.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted Moscow was targeting the same terror groups as the US-led coalition, including IS and Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate the Al-Nusra Front. It had no word on casualties.
Putin left the Paris meeting without comment – and without appearing alongside the French and German leaders.
Turkey, which has long pushed for Assad to be overthrown, has attacked Islamic State group targets once on its own and participated in at least one other coalition strike, but has recently focused its military efforts on Kurdish rebels.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that air raids on Qaryatain occurred before midnight Thursday. A rather odd take, since Hadar actually wrote: “Moreover, the notion that Russian military intervention in Syria amounts to a great win for the Russians (and therefore a big loss for Americans), assumes that Putin might actually succeed there”.
The Ukrainian defense ministry said on its website in March that the separatists had used seven TOS-1 Buratino systems and that one of them had been destroyed by its forces.
Hollande laid out France’s conditions for supporting Russian intervention, which include a halt to strikes on groups other than Islamic State and al Qaeda, protections for civilians and a commitment to a political transition that would remove Assad.