Tango and a Bloodbath: US-Russia attempts to recover from the deadlock

Participation in the Rio Olympics could be behind the recent US-Russia diplomatic engagement
Shubhda Chaudhary Delhi

In a major development, Vladimir Putin met US Secretary of State John Kerry. The event was both surprising and extraordinary, as the Russian-US stalemate continues in Syria. Lasting till the very wee hours of the Friday morning, the meeting was finally concluded by a brief press conference by Putin, which was followed by the conference of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Kerry themselves. According to foreign policy analysts, the body language of Putin revealed that both US and Syria were thinking about forging a joint military alliance in Syria.

The three statesmen, be it Putin, Lavrov or Kerry did not show any after effects of the recently held NATO meeting in which there was a strong and ferocious determination by the Western Alliance to deter Russia’s military operations in Syria and Eurasia. In a telephonic conversation with Lavrov, Kerry had disclosed that the US is going to meet a few leaders from the European Alliance and tell them about the various concrete steps that both Russia and US are going to take in Syria. The aim is to fight against the forces of Al Nusra, ISIS and Al Qaeda in Syria along with strengthening the hand of the rebel groups. It seems very likely that both US and Russia have a very clear cut idea about the direction they are moving in.

The sudden intrusion of Kerry, a seasoned diplomat with 30 years of experience in this entire Syrian mayhem sounds well calculated. What is difficult to understand, certainly, is why the US is suddenly giving so much leverage to Russia, especially when it comes to the deadlock in Syria? Both US and Russia have had their own geo-political ups and downs in Syria as they both, often more than not, are found in opposing positions to each other. Yet, this meeting exudes a sense of urgency, of immediacy.

Lavrov did also respond that on one hand, the US is trying, quite fiercely to undermine Russia by keeping it outside the Rio Olympics, being speculative and suspicious about its attack on ISIS. But at the same time, the ‘concrete steps’ come as a surprise, even for Lavrov who has a different understanding of the containment strategy of the US.

Perhaps, what changed meanwhile was the failed military coup in Turkey, which has altered the geopolitics of the region. The sudden assiduous attempt of Kerry to engage with Russia comes in the backdrop of this coup. There is no concrete evidence that the US Administration had an idea about this planned coup.

Probable reasons for this diplomatic engagement could be the floundering policies of US administration in Syria. Turkey meanwhile has stopped engaging, especially in providing aid and other humanitarian interventions in Syria. The Syrian government has taken control over Aleppo, and there are several US-backed rebel groups that are currently trapped in the city. What Washington needs now is a face-saving solution, a compromise, and no one can be a better partner than Russia for this purpose.

But the most important question to ask is, what exactly does Russia gain in return? Will the permission to participate in the Rio Olympics do? Well, it should not come as a surprise if the International Olympics Committee suddenly allows the Russian team to participate. If that happens, it would be a successful bargain for Russia.