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tv   Discussion on Russian Military Intervention in Syria  CSPAN  December 22, 2015 12:09pm-1:42pm EST

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is the only realistic way out because frankly. is no support for the world alone taking all its risk or where is there any sense of what they can actually succeed if they do that so that existed. the emotional public dislikes them equally although that's not really what my concern is. it's worthy activists that want to engage in this and i would argue the rational thinking is we need to do this together. >> if i could just address the point about the grand coalition i think that the trouble is there are certain patterns that we see in international relations and the fact of the matter is the grand coalition doesn't lead to a grand coalition going forward and i
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think that we have to accept something similar here especially with the call to the grand alliance in particular he worked against the west and ukraine in particular in 2014 and 2015. we are going to now, can we be a life together in syria coming and i have a feeling that won't be the end of the start as soon as he can put it again he will do so and i think that we must understand the nature of mr. putin. so we have to be very realistic. we are all against isis, but if it is defeated, we are not going to be agreeing at all. >> i will take ipo takeoff on that and go back to what the russians expected in 2001. the language about the coalition was also used in 2001. so why did it work when he met
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with mr. bush and the relationship on the uptake. that's because they were hopeful to the united states in the phase of the war in afghanistan because we agreed to who the enemy was it was quite clear was no difference and it was in russian interest to have them take care of a problem that obviously played russia and the neighbors themselves. then we should try to work with the russians us to have a successful coalition like this we would have to agree on who the enemy is and the panel has shown we don't agree except by saying in general it is the islamic state but we have different definitions. because of everything that has happened in the recent years particularly ukraine. so yes we can try but the
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conditions for instance that make the cooperation in counterterrorism cooperation. >> on the connection it ran in 2000 but then mentioned the expansion among other things i think they have been since then and now i think it is too late and mr. putin is on a different course than he was 50 years ago; see any productive coalition under such circumstances as today. and the question about how
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russia is going to help, know it is going to help speed assad. moscow is helping [inaudible] >> a couple of comments. if a coalition of military forces in sufficient numbers cannot defeat eastern syria, what has this world come to? do we think local indigenous forces are going to be able to do the job if professionals cannot do it? there was an article in the "washington post" the other day about the effects of sustained
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russian bombing in the northern syria not far from the turkish border how this is abstract and rather decisively the inflow of humanitarian assistance to the needy series ends at the worst time of the year at the onset of winter. this is her for a thick debate could -- horiffic. these are obviously very interesting discussions but they dominate this process to the protection of the series and
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civilians is excluded from the discussion. it is excluded from american russian diplomacy the process i'm sad to say he would go nowhere. the focus as anybody could agree on the islet like to thank everybody. we are a couple minutes over and we need to reconvene at 11:20 legal seawall in 15 minutes. thank you all for coming. [applause] >> i would like to thank everyone for coming this
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morning. as you see we had a great panel and the importance of the conversation has been heightened by the diplomacy over the past week, week and a half as we speak of the negotiations going on in new york following the secretary's visit to moscow. with that i will turn over to the first speaker. >> thank you. i am delighted to be invited to the atlantic council program and i'm humbled to be among so many deeply experienced and why is co- panelists. my task was truly out of the motives for the russian intervention in syria and to say something about what is the policy context in the united states. in my paper i laid out three motives that i consider to be primary or strategic considerations and then three less important ancillary motives which may or may not intertwine
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in interesting ways. so the first circle the least ambitious and at the the most obvious rushing motive for the intervention which a lot of this has been mentioned already in the first panel is obviously there was an ally in trouble, syria was in trouble. over the last four something years as it was mentioned in the first panel it would be in real trouble. the only base the russians have outside of the russian territory so it would've looked bad and it would be bad if they lost the only ally they have in that part of the world, so just like the united states intervened many years ago to protect south vietnam to protect the regime from being out proud.
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ellis also eluded to earlier and they put russia in the role of the kind of the kingmaker. they are there with a province and tanks and airplanes into their military. and they have become a much larger factor in any settlement to the cbn civil war for what might be done with respect thereafter. this is highly speculative on my part. i have no hard evidence to back this up, but i think that it is logical that we need to at least consider the regime over some four years or so frankly isn't very impressive damage to kill something like a quarter of a million people, mostly unarmed civilians to create something like 4 million out of a population of 24 million create seven or eight will be displaced people in trouble refugees.
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the russians if they wanted to could produce many more refugees than the regime already has the point being to put a good deal of pressure on the european union's that had a great deal of difficulty coping with 800,000 refugees are less than a million imagine what it would do to the tenure of the european politics if they had to deal with 3 million or 4 million i don't have any evidence again as i say the russian government that bonaire putin was trying to exacerbate and pushed to the right european politics but i wouldn't put it past one of the reasons is in the three main strategic rationales for the russian motives i also see a setting that the kind of scaled motives in ukraine so the western ideas and institutions can't get closer to moscow and
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the second would be to replace the government which is not to the liking of vladimir putin but the third stretch goal that is too dangerous to attempt would be to have some little green men in the baltic state and watch what would happen in the american european and transatlantic response if the united states and its allies failed to respond in a vigorous way. without actually meeting it on the field of the battle and the increase in the refugees to the union is possible to put a great deal of pressure against the union without actually trying to attack it or deal with with it in a physical way and we've already seen the italians a little bit wobbly about the continuation of sanctions against russia on the account of
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ukraine. so, these motives although they are speculative, they are not unreasonable and so i think they need to be kept in mind. there are three other ancillary motives and one of them has been mentioned a lot which is that the zaire as a matter of course to make russia look like it is a great international power again, and of course as was mentioned before, this has a lot of domestic political revenues and i don't think we should underestimate the domestic end of the political motivation for a lot of what the russian government has done. there are two other motives if i mention ukraine is a distraction to get people's minds off of eastern europe and ukraine and two moveon and this has worked wonderfully as a tactic after
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the speeches that president obama and president putin gave you will recall the delegates wish the russians while. they wouldn't say a word about what is going on in ukraine. the third motive and again i'm not an expert. i would give her but it seems to me with the ground agenda they had an 8 billion-dollar bill from the government in iraq went down. they orbit for $.5 billion if they are concerned about that but.
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it's rusting and basically useless. they are going to get something on $125 billion in cash and one of the things they will try to do this by a is buy a conventional capacity. where are they going to get it from we are not going to sell it to them. the only place they can really go is russia. it's even possible the government can decide if only for the cause of interoperability to purchase a new russian conventional order of battle and if you add up these numbers you are talking about grocery money and probably talking about looking out over a ten-year period something like 50 to $60 billion that may not sound like a lot of money but russia that is the industrialized and being plugged into the oligarchy that is the powerful amount of money so to me those are the two sets of three motives that i think explains what they are doing. the problem of course is it's easier to list motives.
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the problem is to assign what the priorities are and then to say how these areas interacts. i don't have time to discuss that but we don't have any hard evidence about how that works and i would defer to the experts to counsel me on what they think the interaction into the priorities really are. last comment dennis will talk about this at more length. if you think about the problem in syria long enough you come to the solution. number one, it's a problem, it's a threat, it's dangerous. people could argue that after what's happened in the last couple of weeks it's dangerous and it seems the policy right now that the united states is pursuing is not adequate in terms of its likely consequences or its urgency to obviate the
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problem. the second part. who's going to who is going to supply the forces on the ground? there's been a change in the last couple of weeks more americans are willing to send large numbers of forces to the middle east than i thought would be the case and probably for the wrong reason but it's irrelevant. i don't think president obama is persuaded this is the right thing to do so we are looking for much just political expediency but we are looking for sunni allies on the ground and they may be a red and a turkish but as it's already been pointed out, isis is that anybody's first priority. it's their, but it's therefore impossible to assemble a local coalition whose main target is. but it's not impossible in my view to construct a coalition whose target is the regime.
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and with its russian ally that brings us back to where we should start in the first place which is the regime is the problem and in creating that they are helping them and they are helping them as well. so i so i got back to the danger in the region which is less a symptom of the problem and the real problem with the other malicious. that's how we see them. the last thing i will say is this. if they decided three and a half or four years ago to create a humanitarian salad my preference is that it would be turkish
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soldiers but of course nobody paid any attention to me obviously. if we had done that we would have been their first. the opposition to the regime would have a chunk of real estate which again did trade for influence over the solution, the political solution to the civil war and now the russians are there first. now suggestions that we create a no-fly zone or that we bring standoff weapons to attack the regime or degrade the regime or suggest we create a humanitarian keep out zone one of the reasons they are already there and therefore raises the possibility of an inadvertent or not inadvertent/between the forces is dan gerace and that is what comes from not using the force judiciously and at an earlier point in the crisis allowing it to fester.
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i will stop there. >> i will say a few things that complement what adam said also that i heard from the first panel as well and i want to put in a larger context the issue of what is driving the russians and how should we respond to it. if you go back to 1971 from the standpoint no problem anywhere in the world can be sold and it's pretty clear that what america who do not like to create it as a reality for russia. in 1971 when he was saying detente was supposed to regulate and make competition predictable it wasn't supposed and that the soviet union a global orbiter the question is it a good idea for putin to become a global orbiter and maybe we can discuss
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that in the panel. i would like to say at least on the issue of terrorism and i heard this a little bit in the first panel she said a lot of the right things. at that time we agreed on the same enemy. but if you listen to what he said at the un and later in october he said we need a kind of grand alliance to forget about the differences and come up with a common front we can't differentiate between moderate and a moderate. we basically can't have a double standard when it comes to terrorists and we shouldn't be dealing with terrorist groupings in the address it sounds like most of us were directed against
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turkey but i think it's fair to say that they are not consistent with his own behavior when it comes to syria who is partnering with syria he's partnering with the revolutionary guards forces and with hezbollah, to organizations that indicates i think it's fair to say they invented the idea of suicide bombing so he has no problem being a partner with them and providing air cover for what they are doing on the ground. that is about whether or not we can beat these ground partners when it comes to terror but it doesn't address whether we can collaborate on syria.
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they are a little bit different about the expectations. he will come around because of msn's the logic of quagmire. they have to go after isis as opposed to where most of the attacks are coming. it's about character and about character and of the cooperation when you look at the aftermath of the conference at the first meeting and we agree on the same principles.
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when you look at moscow on tuesday we may not see eye to eye on the policy that he said we want the same outcome. we don't want to go after. at least the administration sees as and i really wish and i hope they are right i'm afraid they are wrong and i say that because i look at what is the pattern of behavior over time in syria. i'm afraid it is still very much a zero-sum approach and its ilk very much one of backing the
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regime. the aims that you have described i think that it's no secret putin wants to preserve the military presence and access that they had in the past. he wants to be an arbiter of any outcome in syria. he wants to parlay being an arbiter into being seen as the key arbiter as a whole and i think someone said if you look has been going to moscow he looks increasingly like he is succeeding at that. it's been for the last couple of years and i've heard this constantly they are saying to them you may not like the support for the different but that is part of what the
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approach has been if you look diplomatically to support the geneva principles but again in december 2013 of january 2014 and they completely backed assad and the military intervention is following the logic of what you might have imagined. it's designed to change the power of the balance on the grounds of any diplomatic process so all of this suggests that again also when you get what because what they are actually doing in terms of affecting the balance of the ground it is unfortunate that very day that he was in moscow is the day that we had when you were referring to.
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but did you then is responsible for providing humanitarian assistance into the russians are carrying out a kind of said of attacks that aren't just going after the opposition they are also trying to depopulate areas. they are deliberately making it harder for the assistance to be provided and attacking hospitals and attacking silos and water treatment plants. it's designed to produce an interesting reality. they bought a poster that is similar to what assad once and isis once as well a polarization that the only choices are isis or syria. isis once it is the way they will mobilize the muslims. a assad once it because that's how he mobilizes the world about him and it's clear that is what
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putin still wants. maybe it can change of the costs go up high enough and i come back to what will be the last set of comments cursed. again, the administration could be right and i could be wrong. we could see and should see very soon the proof is what happens. this is apropos with what you were getting at and i will expand a little bit the issue is do they enforce a cease-fire. there is no process. listen to secretary kerry who said we will see a huge change. i don't mean one that is a respite that goes on for a few weeks and then it is designed to sort of retooled and then start over again. a cease-fire they can impose
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when it comes to hezbollah to have the leverage to impose on that if there is a cease-fire and if they go along with the corridors to provide humanitarian assistance if that takes place it becomes real. if that takes place then the opposition would have more of a reason to be neither could be a transition but if that takes place then this is real and i hope that's the case. it would be better for everybody now as it turns out if i'm not wrong that doesn't mean you necessarily have to give up on the idea of trying to still push the process but it means when
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you push the process and approach putin you have to not with the logic of arguments but with the logic of leverage does the logic that putin understands and they would have us do the following. have us go to the russians and say we are deeply beavers in the process to mistake a plea but they can't let it work unless there is a cease-fire in the humanitarian corridors. so it leaves us no choice but to support the safe haven. the administration should also look at having to invest in so much they've have been processed and the court strategy against isis is not only ratcheting up against isis but we have a
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contradiction. so long as we are ratcheting up against isis and they continue to hammer out the opposition that seems prudent to join us means they are part of an onslaught and they are not going to do it. i get all choked up when i talk about it. you predate an area where you could have the opposition to come here. and in a sense that something has to stop you actually change the circumstance. now if they understand the logic of its own position but if it really wants to be successful it
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needs to make the process succeed the only way it has the chance to succeed if i'm right about the russians and they don't impose a cease-fire is to then use leverage on russia. he would get what it means and he would understand it reduces the leverage on the europeans. it has the problem of actually creating an opposition that could become more effective against the regime that would raise the cost of supporting the regime in a means for him the ability to adopt these kind of objections that he has to become much were difficult to achieve so if i'm wrong and right now they see the light in the putin understands the logic then we
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will see them do a cease-fire and support humanitarian corridors. if it turns out i am not alone in my assessment if it turns out that in fact this is not what putin intends to do in a new term that he doesn't intend to impose the corridors and he's not prepared at this point for the process to be successful we have to think about the ways we can build leverage. i'm suggesting the variation of the same thing to go ahead and create the kind of of public support we did in 1990, 1991. you use the safe haven as a leverage ultimately it can't be
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unless you are prepared to pull through on it. the interesting thing with the turk report into the gulf states requiring it actually does give leverage on them to do the following and we will and we will do it provided that you will provide air force for the safe haven. and it would've provided the money to build the first chapter in the safe haven and you will provide forces on the ground to sort out the kurdish question to police the safe haven and all money in the census now go through one channel so that we can build leverage on the opposition so that the opposition itself becomes more coherent. it seems to me there are ways to proceed but do reflect the reality situation. we have the potential for leverage only if we are prepared to act on it.
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i'm going to make four or five quick comments and then actually maybe for the first time in this session i may disagree with a couple of the comments that have been made first of the issue of motives i largely agreed with what's been said both above in the first session and this one i would only add a couple of points. i had a little bit of a problem with the talk on putin and russia wanting to be a global arbiter. i think at this stage and for the foreseeable future it isn't going to be a global arbiter.
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i think as we have seen in recent years, he is going to have a more robust policy and they are going to project power into their neighborhood for certain circumstances and and that they will take advantage of opportunities like the one offered by the civil war but i do not see her economic, political or domestic grounds the kind of reemergence of a global superpower in the form of russia. second, i also am a little bit skeptical that the motive of somehow russia taking this action as a way of destabilizing through migration. the one country arguably that has been the most destabilized by the flows of immigrants is
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germany over almost a million migrants but germany to putin is a critical country in terms of his strategy to deal with the european union. i haven't heard one leader express that concern. i think that it is highly unlikely and i don't think that it is credible to suggest he's trying to fine-tune politics in western europe by creating chaos in syria. but i will make a point about ukraine because the planes that have been made about his thinking about ukraine and
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western sanctions. i do think russian intervention had a impact in terms of not only diplomacy and force him to syria -- force in the syria. and as i was discussing that when they followed the terrorist attacks of paris it went immediately to moscow and sat down with putin and the fact that we are thinking about how they might be folded into some kind of diplomatic solution and process makes it in or must be difficult for the europeans to sort of continue to justify the sanctions policy against the europeans particularly at a moment when the sanctions have a distortion that impact on the europeans and when it's hard to
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justify new projects like the stream at the same time keeping sanctions in place on russia. so i'm not predicting an early change in this policy but i do think it is if putin demonstrates that he's trying to seek some help from purely public diplomacy to play a constructive role in the exercise, i think the sanctions policy is russia are going to be vulnerable. the second point i would say is simply that i think if you compare the u.s. and russian policy in the situation what putin has done is defined or has created a much easier task for
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himself then u.s. foreign-policy created for itself and he is supporting and as dennis said had quite correctly come he is demonstrating to the region and elsewhere that he will stick with his guide and he will be a loyal friend and ally. be on the other hand not only want the ouster of assad he wanted a process that is enormously difficult to define how to implement that is going to lead to the end of the fighting, the end of human rights abuses and some type of settlement that takes all the interest of the disparate groups into account. that is in judgment of a lot of people including myself is very unlikely in the near term. so we have got a symmetrical
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interests and certainly asymmetrical goals that needs to be taken into account as we think about what they are trying to do and what we are trying to do. i think that the issue of the introduction of the russian ground forces in syria could change the scope of the conflict and could actually defeat isis in my judgment is very unlikely. i think putin has already been burned by his intervention not to mention the shootdown of the airliner in egypt for the tingle that he has with the turks and
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the pilots and the costs that are going to grow in terms of this turkish russian dispute. i can't think of two more things stand narcissistic international leaders banned vladimir putin and where this thing could go we could add a donald trump in that equation. but thinking about how this could go tells me and i doubt very seriously.
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they have a diplomatic strategy in the vienna process into this largely in part will result on the deal and you already see the slight movement as it has been pointed out this morning after gotti outside the russians are sort of hinting that they would and this is really up to be around at the completion of some kind of deal so there has to be a process there and that's that it's not even for me and issue of whether putin is playing a zero-sum game. i think a mistake here is that somehow the united states and russia even if they were to reach the agreement could drive an overall settlement.
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first, there are the other regional powers and they are going to have a lot to say than then perhaps either the united states or russia and turkey and they involve saudi arabia and then there's the groups on the ground who enormously again or complex. one thing that is in today's discussion is i am in the camp of those who argue that what we are seeking with isis nyc and what we are seeing in syria and iraq is part of a bigger almost 30 year war that has two critical elements to. one is geopolitical for just a contest if you will between
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saudi arabia and iran. and to cut its create sectarian. it's a sunni and shia. and that creates a dynamic that makes it more barbaric and more complicated. so what i'm suggesting here, and this is where i would have to come back to dennis and his creation of a say-so in -- saved his own in the work without a strong ground partner and we have failed to define who the other partner is. we can talk about we forget the turks in their order was already recognized the major interest is not isis, it is protecting the
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turkmen and dealing with the kurdish issue. so if it's not turks, they are great when they are defending their community and their regions. we can't expect them to go into the zone then cite isis. so we are left with the problem of the sunnis and the syria and iraq. and without a strong ground ground partner we won't be able to deal with isis. so in the end, even the u.s. russian convergence isn't going to address this problem. and if i'm correct, we are seeing a kind of 30 year war work itself out. i don't think either the united states alone or together or going to hold this problem.
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>> thank you for those comments. i think you are having me here. russian objectives have already been mentioned and i can only conquer the first objection and as a lasting brand in the political foothold showing washington a middle finger in the process but there are other ambitious goals or burdens as a tool to build the coalition at the speech in september based on this coalition a new world order as putin defiant about water would be based on the following
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traditional principles of the holy union for forbidding any kind of revolution and getting all possible possible as i pushed iran's demand aides to be a because the second principle is the principle of the concert of great powers of finding the world issues for the big powers they've been using in the un security council concurring with them and it isn't so clearly defined in the carving up of the zone that will build of the new world order that would give europe a peaceful generation and the position is they gave europe
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generations of peace. this would also solve ukrainian problems and eliminates the anti-russian sanctions. and more or less the problems that resulted number one. it is of course a top game high-risk gamble, but today they are increasingly irrelevant. after november 4 when it was shot down by the turkish fighter close to the turkish and syrian border. today we are in a very different situation. we are actually on the brink of armed confrontation, regional confrontation between turkey and russia.
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and the turkish and the russian forces are on the total collision course. there is a campaign increasing and under the campaign with the support of hezbollah and the allied militias and others are pressing ground defenses against the turkoman positions and moderately successful there is increasingly the ordinance being used including fuel bombs delivered by air and the rocket launcher system to uproot the opposition forces. and some of the findings are already happening just on the turkish security and border --
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theory -- syrian border. and these are dumb show is basically that are going to forward the turkish territory. and of course, the russian military were given orders to shoot first and shoot to kill. and putin said you should destroy any targets that potentially could threaten you. and the russian military of course wants to level the score using one jet and one helicopter if nothing will be done, it is a high probability that they are going to be more incidents and which would eventually transform and escalate into a conventional local four. the greatest problem with that is the conventional part of the world turkey is stronger than
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russia. on the ground absolutely. and on the cd also. and they also have an upper hand which would mean that russia -- the russian forces could suffer from humiliating losses and which means that the conflict may escalate further through the cruise missiles. it's a very big thing. ..
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even more dangerous than 73 in the middle east. when death, went up a notch, we could see, go up again in the coming days or weeks. if nothing is being done. right now nothing is being done seriously -- defcom. returning to 73 we should understand that we right now need maybe to use some material tactics to have shuttle diplomacy between moscow and ankara to solve the immediate problem.
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local standing and effective seize fire that would give the turkmens possibility that they will not be pushed out because for the turks and especially not only for erdogan, ethnic cleansing of ethnic turks on a foreign territory. that's like cyprus. they could believe they have to go. and for russia it's important to clean the north because it's too close to our base. and from there it will event in man's of unpredictable rebels, there could be launched ground attack on the russian base, and the russian base is very possible to ground attack. not enough strategic depth there. everyone should give, it's like a golan heights come here to find a kind of way of compromise to avoid a head on russian-turkish collision. right now i'm afraid i this is not the real problem.
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there are more important things at play and at stake. right now it's like when 1914 after the shooting of sir ferdinand. terrorism is a problem. the austrians actually dealt with it mostly as a terrorist problem, which, of course, will draw because it led to a terrible war. i don't believe that the present american policy as stated recently by obama in his visit, during his visit to the pentagon is advocate. it is not -- is adequate. could be actually mostly fueled
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by misunderstanding and misperception on all sides of attitudes and possible outcomes. russia is sending signals and putin is talk about the possible use of nuclear weapons. he believes he made the point. you can't fight an attack and shoot down planes of a nuclear superpower. and most likely in turkey they believe no one is going to attack a nato nation. so both sides most rightly believe they are secure and they are blindly maybe stumbling into a very dangerous situation. >> pavel, thank you for reminding us, no matter how bad the situation was come in fact it is worse. [laughter] >> thank you, ambassador for inviting me for this, to the
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atlantic council, to give a regional flavor to the discussion. and i'm not a russian expert. i'm not very attuned as well to russian discussion. this is very intelligence sophisticated discussion for me. but what i tell you in the next five or seven minutes, seven points or more i sit in baghdad and we will look at this russian new engagement if you like a russian campaign, you campaign in syria. and i had to go back to five years ago when prime minister maliki met, more than that, putin, and i was there 490 minutes. the man spends 60 minutes, literally when our talking about terrorism and the islamic
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extremism. so it's a real threat he feels at home. i honestly believe that this has been overlooked by, i don't know, 20 or 30 million muslims in russia now. we have at least 2000 chechen jihad this in my country blowing themselves, fighting my people. this is the real, this is the real tough. these people can go back to russia, and inflame and ruined this everyone does, and ruined the minds and hearts of people and create this hatred is at this exclusiveness. so i believe he understands the russians understand much better than a lot of people around the world. the ideological challenge of his
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wahhabist them, solecism or orthodoxy or whatever you call it, i call it the lobby violence -- wahhabi, affecting the minds and hearts of people. this is one important, i have heard so many in the first panel, second panel, dismantle, a lot of negative things of the russian engagement or campaign in syria. but let's try to find, is there any from where i sit in baghdad, is there any possibility, things in this engagement. one thing is i think i understand better as i said the ideological challenge. and the other thing is the russian campaign in syria from
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our perspective has heightened the interest and encourage and enhanced u.s. involvement in my country, and iraq. i can feel it and i can feel the urgency of helping the iraqis in training, developing weapons and developing isr, all sorts of things. so that created a sense of urgency in helping my country, the fight against isis in iraq. we also felt when we tried to retake the refinery and we advanced up, we felt that daesh is not that strong, because the
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route of supply has been destroyed by the russian campaign in syria because those supplies coming from syria from us, and that is exactly what happened in ramadi women lost ramadi in may this year. the good news is we took ramadi two days ago. so i believe it has some positive come if you like, implications. there are iranians and russians are 100% allies and their interest in syria is identical, i don't think so. i think there's a lot of competition there. there is a lot of, well, the russians are, this skyhigh anti-american sentiment in the region is always been capitalized by the iranians for the last 13, well, for the last
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two or three decades now. now, i think they want to capitalize on this as well. and try to rejuvenate their own ties, and we can see in their approach, they are sending their feelings to approach the old about this, the old communists, the extra, well, the islamists come if you like, but on the left side. this is another aspect you can look at the russian campaign in syria. you can see in the region where i come from, or from were i said come is mostly the shia in the region are welcoming the russian
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role, the new role of russia in the middle east. while the syrians are opposing it, mostly, with the exception of, well, with egypt as, is not, i mean, is what the russian involvement in the region. people also in my region are welcoming the russian role in syria because their rules of engagement are different. whether they are in the military rules of engagement or the political rules of engagement. they are much more liberal, much more, well, less sensitive, if you like. we have been telling our american allies that the oxygen which is supplying daesh is been
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selling the iraqis oil and the black market in turkey, and there are thousands of trucks going, anti-americans, because this is the demonstration. i mean, they say this is a civilian target. and killed three or four weeks ago they started to flatten the oil wells, the refineries as well as the route of these trucks. so this is now we are trying to market the idea, if you like, i'm targeting the high-value individuals among daesh. daesh is, if they're using this loophole in the system because the american rules of engagement from the sky, any targets on the
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ground, they are very, very highly selective. the high-value individual, when they travel to use to travel in convoy, now they are traveling with their family, with his wife and with his children. to avoid any engagement from there. of the russians are much more liberal in their rules of engagement. and probably that suits the region, at least for the time being to crush this enemy because this is a brutal, this is -- is indispensable for iran
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and russia, i don't think so. i think they will settle for the right price. they will settle for alawite reform more representative regime. but if we force him out without an agreement, the whole state will collapse. the syrian army will disintegrate, and we will see, and we will come as people said, the day after as to what happened after assad. and we saw this happen in a very, very bad way in iraq. the first 100 days after. we really, really left the country in total vacuum him and this is exactly what's going to happen.
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or you don't get the good guys, the good syrian guys in damascus. you get the very well armed and equipped and trained guys, daesh. so i believe we need to look at, as i tried to put a positive spin if you like on counterbalance, the argument against the russian interventi intervention. but before i leave, i think i will, i understood, i hope i understood him wrong. did he say that assad created isis? isis is in afghanistan, in pakistan, in somalia, in yemen, in libya and boko haram, all
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over the world. it is the ideology, which is, okay, he might have plotted. please don't get me wrong. assad has killed tens of thousands of my people, and when i presented him three times with evidence, he totally denied it. but we know that he has sent tens, well, thousands of jihadists to the porous border in 2005, six, seven and eight, and nine, into been it backfired on them. and this is, i honestly believe that, this will repeat itself in turkey because we haven't talked about turkey. this will repeat itself in turkey because it is not coming on the side of the table.
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his priority is not isis. but this ideology is the concept which is meeting in the minds and hearts of muslims all over the world. and that's the message i wanted to deliver. >> i'm going to offer a few comments have been opened the floor to questions. i'm going to give you 5% observations to try and provide a sense of where we are. first, the military moment in syria remains largely on the side of isil come and not just isil but al-nusra and the other jihadi groups. this is a result, second observation, of the alone which comes back to the doctor's point about this ideology but also very importantly, the support they receive from governments in the gulf and turkey, and also from private individuals were i
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think the principa principle sus going to isil. 30, the russian intervention to back up assad has been notably ineffective. reports have demonstrated they've been active for three months and assad has taken back .004% of syria territory. i thought the russians would do a little better than that. but it hasn't. because air power alone will not do it. four, russia is already confronted with a dilemma -- i did have to intervene more sharply over their client is going to start being on the defensive again. that's why, five, we are beginning to see some signs, and i don't want to overstate this, either as i am the guy on the panel, we beginning to see some indications, inklings, that may
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be moscow's position is changing. these have been referred to already. one, what is it? you had european diplomats suggesting that the mosque also hold a non-of the, that moscow is maybe not with assad at the end of the process. by the same token we've seen a clear movement of the americanization assad does not have to believe -- does not have to leave right away. we see all this flurry of diplomatic activity which heightens one's role on the world stage but doesn't understand and moscow that december rejected the sunni power backing all the extremist groups on the ground. nonetheless that doesn't make moscow is going to do the necessary. they also want to use their sudden role in syria as a way to persuade the europeans to ease up on sanctions relating to ukraine. that's not going to happen in
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january. the europeans took the decision on the margins of the g20 summit here but now they're looking at june and july when it has to be renewed another thing. statements give moscow hopes this ploy will work. but so far moscow does not message was see a need to actually do the necessary in syria. others are falling over themselves trying to russian -- kind welcome the russian will. game is played out a very clear test of russian intentions. i am confident that they will fail that test. but the interesting question will be, what happens when they fail that test, the diplomatic process is going nowhere and assad is starting to be on the defensive again because russian air power alone will not do it? fred gave us this morning a possible solution to this. and dennis also gave us a partial solution. which is begin to put some real military presence on the ground.
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that, however, requires troops on the ground, and that the president they will not be american troops although the american public's position is changing as the attack in san bernardino. it would have to involve turkish troops, probably french troops, and very important, a clear understanding with the sunni powers that they will stop their support for the extremist and maybe put their own troops on the ground. my sense is this is all possible put timeframe is not treatment, not six was, not 12 months. it's probably 24-36 months. a new american administration would factor into this. with that let's open the floor to questions. >> i'll give you a second. >> thank you very much. i am syrian american at a work of the u.s. commission on international religious freedom at the cover syria. my question was actually very directed to mr. mowaffak. declineyou claim to be a represf
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the arab perspective on about what it takes more this is here represented of -- on this panel. you claim that you want to take a look at the positive benefits of russian intervention in syria and she cited two examples that have refocused just that benefit directly that cover. i'd like to know what you think about how the russian intervention how it can probably be positive for the people inside of syria. i'm talking specific about the 200,000 syrians that have been displaced sinc since russian intervention the ontology by the thousands of syrians that have been killed as the result of the russian targeting of hospitals, schools. last week they targeted the russians who targeted the schools and hospitals in these areas. i'd like to know, while adam did not say that i said was created by assad, i don't believe it was great about assad. what do you see about the fact that isis has been able to lift
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withholding countries that utilize corrupt measures to control the people and have used, this has made it worse that has allowed isis to flourish speak with because time is short will take three questions. right in front. >> my question is related to the solutions, and it may sound ignorant but i to ask it. isis exist because of -- its fighters with the new recruits coming mostly from europe. they are supposed to cross a border, and they cannot cross the border with israel. they cannot cross the border with lebanon. basically they cannot come by my dad. the only country they come through is turkey. wouldn't it be easier instead of controlling turkey to send its troops or something else just
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ask to stop? is easy to identify those people. they come and go permanently. why nobody's raised this issue? >> thank you. >> i am a european and senior fellow at brookings this year, and first of all regarding the speculation on the european union and ukraine sanctions. i understand the concern but i think today it was indicated in brussels that sanctions were rolled over for another six months, so in june and july that may come up again. i mean, there was this indication that you said that italy, somebody said there while the other actually the own as for discussion. i think if one analytical looks at the russian involvement in ukraine and syria than one could posit the possibility the russian involvement in syria
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living a less and possibility are i don't think they can feasibly increase their commitment in syria at the same time as they are looking to reverse what they've committed to do in ukraine. that was my comment, and by the way, on the refugee question i think also it's a bit far-fetched, and i've heard also some conspiracy theories almost about how turkey, by design, opened up its borders to allow the flow of refugees out of turkey. in fact, if one looks at the refugee situation in the region it was certainly an objective factor that is countries, turkey, jordan and lebanon have been completed overwhelmed and now they are welcoming mat is wearing thin and these people were really desperate and looking forward to go out. if the turks did look the other way it was a whole set of circumstances and certainly not
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a calculated strategy to put pressure on the eu to open up the negotiations. and i think also the same applies to russia. regarding the margins of the islamic state group, i'm astonished that there is no recognition here that affect islamic state group started in iraq. and, in fact, i think it's exit we have an iraqi representative on this panel because as we have a recognized by adopting a strategy on iraq and syria together sing it as one region was conflict is difficult to resolve this issue look at syria in isolation. my last point, or question would actually be regarded russian intentions and motivations, and perhaps this would key into also what are a rocky representative said regarding the event interest of the united states to be involved in iraq in a more service we. and that is what are the russian intentions with regard to iraq
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and iran? iran was already mentioned as a possible buyer of military supplies but i'm thinking here about as large or intense regarding resources in iraq and iran. is syria the real prize or isn't looking for the field to iraq and iran? thank you. >> adam first. >> i've collected a lot of time. as i said, i don't think i ever said i this was created i cannot get i just meant to say, if i said that i misspoke. that the syrian regime barbarous behavior has been the principal recruiting tool for isis. sources of isis go back of course to the kind of one-two punch of mistaken american policy in this managing the iraq war and then withdrawing to sing before the shia government in baghdad that stand on its own two feet. there's never just one reason why complex things happen. there's always more than five. if i said that i misspoke.
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about the russians actually designing their policy to great more refugees, well, i forgot from two people to say it is far-fetched. maybe it is. as i said it speculative if i have no hard evidence. but i will reserve my judgment on this until the truth, if it ever spells out, spells out. vladimir putin seems to me to be a textbook example of like kgb like thinking. he was raised to believe that western institutions were ultimately lethal and hostile to russia. and that means both nader and the european union. i also think that if this over go to the way of history and iff european politics in general terms illegal and more towards the right as we've seen in poland and in hungary, czech republic, made in the next elections in the netherlands we will see something quite unusual. this makes it easier, even
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germany, i think this makes it easier for the russians to deal one on one as a strong and federal unit. we will see on that point, we will see. as to the turkey, so-called conspiracy theory. this is an empirical matter. i don't know all the facts yet. i've read those stories. i can't buy mindful of the. i don't know if they are true but i don't know if they are false the the. i think we shouldn't rush to judgment over those things. the last thing i want to say is, if this is jumping around a little bit but if the united states wants to try to create some kind of a coalition force that's useful on the ground, one thing that has been mentioned so far on either count is just idiotic, stupid war in yemen saudi for prosecuting, and what online, that kind of policy is abating in the weight is stupid, dangerous war in yemen because i
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think with that -- feel bad. this is very, very dangerous and very stupid. we are never going to get the emirates and anybody in the gulf to look toward first time nine ended in daesh unless we can end this ridiculous war in yemen. it's possible to end it. it is possible. x. and it needs to do more to try to end the war. ultimately, what this will do i fear is this will reenact, it will reopen the want of of the 1931934 more. >> dennis? >> a couple comments i guess. one on turkey. yeah, look, there's been a focal point of the administration to
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try, not all of the administration but the europeans to try to get the turks to do much more to try to ensure that the border is not as porous as it has been. there is no doubt that the turkish priority has been more kurdish than it has been isis. on the other hand, the turks today have 2.2 million syrian refugees in turkey. they have a stake in seeing that and, one. two, more and more of the care they're facing within turkey itself is being isis driven, not kurdish driven. if you look at turkish behavior over the last couple of months using a much more systematic effort to go after those within turkey or the sources of care and that's not just the kurds but it's also isis which means there is a potential to affect i think turkish behavior. when i say create some kind of safe zone, you know, right now i
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know the administration is not going to go for that. the president has basically resisted it every step of the way. but david ignatius piece the other day i think captured, let's put it this way, it was an editor protection of the present is thinking. he was simply quoting the president thinking. so the president's reluctance to be drawn in to thi these conflis remains as powerful as it has ever been. in many ways i feel like the president has over learned lessons of iraq, and part of the problem is we've never had a debate, a series of discussions within this country about the lessons of iraq. people on the left who opposed it and for good reasons have never been prepared to revisit it. people on the right who were for it have never really admitted what was wrong with it. we have a president who basically has made that his analogy, we did vietnam because
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munich. decision-makers make analogies when they make -- circumstances were very different. this was a genuine civil war and gets me into this issue of yazidis create isis by t-shirt contributed to it. assad decided to in essence declared a war within syria against those who were demonstrating against his regime, not at the outset. by the way almost all of them were secular to begin with, not because they were calling for regime change, they were calling for reform and the response to that was draconian. and then as a way of saving himself, he had to create a sectarian conflict. he had to say to the alawites and fy12, you're all finished. so he created a war. now it is true come if tomorrow he goes, the prospect that isis
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is the one who replaces it is very high. if we learned one lesson from iraq, and maybe also libya, don't create vacuums that are going to be filled by the worst possible forces. but that doesn't mean our only option is, has to be that. and here again, you know, i was echoing fred in some respects. i don't see an alternative to the interprocess but i don't think it has much prospect of success. that's the test i established, the right ones, he is doing is really serious about wanting this to work right now because the president is right, you will see the cost, we will see him behave a certain way on a cease-fire and humankind assisted the russians voted for the security counsel resolution. they are just doing nothing to assure it will actually be
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turned into a reality. if you are right, john, and which i expect you are is i don't expect i will do this. i don't think he will second district the problem we face is will have a diplomatic process that is going to continue to meander. it's going to continue, it's going to create the illusion we're trying to do something without actually doing anything. and unfortunate one of the things it does contribute to our problems has been, this problems has been, this goes back to same assad moscow, we have objectives but that means we apply to those objectives don't get the objectives. something has to give, everything that is given has given so far has been our credibility. >> a couple of brief point. first of all i completely agree with adam, and i'm glad you brought up the war in yemen because i think it sort of crystallizes this broader point i was making earlier about the sort of 30 years war aspect of
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the regional problem we face here think about this for a second. our friend and ally saudi arabia is attacking an iranian shiite group, the houthis, who are fighting increasingly a sunni group that is increasingly dominated by isis. so if the saudis succeed in this effort, they could very well face isis, and isis dominated yemen and to the south and increasingly strong isis in iraq in syria in the north. so their policy could actually bring about their demise. and next year while we are
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sitting in this conference room talking about these issues we could be discussing the strategic implications of the fall of the house of sal. that i think underscores the problems we are addressing. that takes me to a second point which is, i think it was maybe you, dennis, that talked about 1990-1991. this fantastic success of the first bush administration had in creating a global coalition to drive saddam hussein's forces from kuwait. in my view, in a think about the region as a whole is the exception that proves the rule. what you had was a foreign army entering an adjacent state, and the international community realized that this was a rule,
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this was a line that should not be crossed and that we had to respond. and we did respond and we responded with a spectacular success. but to try to talk about a grand coalition to by isis in a situation of civil, internal, messy conflict in both syria, in iraq, in yemen, in libya, and to think that we, at this, think that we could create such a grand coalition to fight in these eternal conflicts i think is a huge mistake. and that's where we are kind of left with a terrible dilemma. dennis is right. if you intervene in these countries, in these civil conflicts, i in the sectarian conflicts and then you leave, you create a vacuum and you get
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come as we've seen in iraq or in libya, chaos. but if you don't leave, you are an occupying power, particularly if you're not, if you don't have an army that his arab. it at, if it's american, if it european, how long are you going to be welcomed there? and that is the dilemma that and think about what we should do in syria that nobody can resolve. >> i should say as was mentioned about russian impossible ground intervention, that syria is basically, it's impossible. the our geographical logistical political problems are insurmountable since the time of the great if russia were to project force, massive forced in the mediterranean. you need to control the street.
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if you can't control the streets, you can't secure guaranteed logistical support for your troops. you can't do it. and right now they are increasingly insecure. turks could intervene and do, actually even having a second air base there right now is logistically very much a problem. because we have to move thousands and thousands of tons of equipment and supplies to continue to move them to have one full scale base which is now overcrowded with aircraft. but having more is right now not practical. and russian policy in the middle east right now is off balance. it was absolutely unforeseen that the turks would move militarily against us. putin repeats the backstab and i
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believe him, this was not calculated. for the russian policy is right now in the reactive mode. and seeking ways right now mostly targeting turkey, not anything else, seeking to isolate turkey and undergoing the present turkish regime working possible allies i don't know, cargo one, kurt, no matter what. of course, right now, russians and russian military and the kremlin disliked such situations when they have to provide. it's not the russian way. the plans went to the been wind what happened in the 24th of november. and now we are in reactive mode. what comes out in the end right now is not fully predictable. >> thank you. >> a couple of clarifying comments. i feel for you, h


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