This week, Syrian President Bashar Assad met with Russian President Putin in Moscow. This meeting marks the first time that Assad has left Syria since the outbreak of the civil war in 2011.
During his surprise visit to the Russian capital, Assad thanked Putin for his role in preventing “events in Syria” from taking a more “tragic turn.” In the meeting, he expressed his support for recent Russian airstrikes in Syria and the collaboration between the two countries. In his statements, Putin denounced the involvement of “international terrorists” who he claimed were attempting to destabilize the country.
This meeting confirms the relationship between the two governments in the face of the Syrian civil war, especially amid calls from Western governments for Assad to step down. The fact that Moscow was the destination for Assad’s first diplomatic visit since 2011 is telling of the importance to the Syrian government to maintain this relationship.
This meeting may also have the additional purpose of being used to posture Russian airstrikes as moral and supported by the Syrian people, as Russia has been facing international criticism for allegations that their airstrikes have been targeting mainly rebel-held territory.
More strikingly, this visit is an indication that Assad has a lot of conflidence in his power hold in Syria, enough to leave its borders entirely.
By Adaeze Eze
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