Russia: we don’t believe Turkey will form ‘buffer zone’ in Syria

Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, an official at the Russian foreign ministry, has said Russia does not believe Turkey will create a ‘buffer zone’ in the north of Syria.

The official stated that his country’s stance on Turkey’s Euphrates Shield operation has not changed, adding that the operation must be conducted with the approval of the Baathist government in Damascus.

“I hope Turkey will correct its stance in the matter in accordance with the current framework for collaboration in Syria,” Botsan-Kharchenko added.

Speaking about the Euphrates Shield Operation last month, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus had said, “This operation has not been undertaken to clear the area and give it back to the regime. We said it at the very beginning, the Euphrates Shield is an operation about the national security of Turkey. It is an operation to protect the borders of Turkey and to eradicate any threat to Turkey from just south of the border.”

In the same conversation with reporters yesterday, Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko also said the Russian government does not see the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) as terrorist organisations.

With Turkish and Syrian forces both closing in on the northern Syrian town of al-Bab from different directions, Russia’s intermediate position is thought to be pivotal in what will happen in the town if and when the Islamic State (IS) group is defeated. Turkey has so far retained control of towns like Jarablus, which was taken from IS in the initial stages of Turkish operations.