Sanctions for Aleppo: what will be discussed by the diplomats after a meeting on Syria in Lausanne

Absentee salvation

Saturday, October 15, in Swiss Lausanne was held the meeting of foreign Ministers of nine States, one way or another involved in a protracted war in Syria. The leaders of the Russian and American diplomacy Sergei Lavrov and John Kerry (they are the main negotiators on the conflict) at the meeting were the foreign Ministers of Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Qatar — in fact, all key regional players, with the exception of Israel and Syria.

The meeting was supposed to be an attempt to salvage the cease-fire regime, which Lavrov and Kerry barely has developed by the beginning of autumn. After 9 September, they announced the agreement, September 13 began the action of the truce, but three days later it was actually broken: first strike, the U.S. air force on the positions of the Syrian army, then the fire is unknown the convoy of the UN and, finally, the resumption of fighting in Aleppo.

In the words of Kerry, the meeting went exactly as he wanted — namely, in the format of “brainstorming” on joint problem solving. As stated by the Iranian Agency PressTV, Iran’s Deputy foreign Minister Jaberi Ansari, two-thirds of the time, the Ministers discussed the criteria according to which the “moderate” Syrian opposition can be separated from the radicals and jihadists.

According to Kerry, the parties agreed to continue negotiations as soon as possible and a new meeting will be held on Monday, two days after the first. However, during this time, Kerry will take part in one such conference in London, where Russian diplomats, but will be the representatives of Britain, France and Germany. According to the BBC correspondent, Kerry plans to discuss with European diplomats “the details of the new peace plan,” but only “fresh ideas” after the Lausanne meeting.

The problem of differentiation of the rebel factions is one of the key in solving the Syrian problem from the time of the Munich conference in February 2016, when an agreement was reached about the diplomatic intervention of great powers to begin a political process. For Moscow and supported the regime of Bashar al-Assad’s circle of hostile terrorist groups are much greater than for the West, and fight the government army with the entire range of rebels evokes sharp criticism in the U.S. and Europe, up to a diplomatic incident.

The largest of these was the siege of Aleppo, carried out by Assad’s forces. In the “pot” in the Eastern part of the city are not ISIL (banned terrorist group) and armed opposition. Moreover, according to Reuters, in addition to 8 thousand fighters in the city are blocked 275 thousand civilians.

The Golden mean

The bombardment of Eastern Aleppo with Russian support, Western diplomats call a “barbarism” and “war crime”. In early October, the American newspaper the Wall Street Journal said that the German government is considering to enter against Russia additional sanctions, associated this time with the action in Syria. According to the newspaper, it was not only personal, but also on economic constraints.

Then the representatives of the state Chancellor denied such discussions. Subsequently, a source in the EU said that among 28 European powers do have a group of supporters of increased sanctions against Russia, but there is a group of opponents of the restrictions as such. In this regard, the source said, most likely, Brussels will choose the middle ground and will adhere to the policy of maintaining the sanctions in the current volume.

This is reflected in the statement of the head of the European Council Donald Tusk made last week. “It’s obvious to me that the only way to extend sanctions against Russia, otherwise it would be a surrender,” said he to the press on the question of whether the EU will remove restrictions with Russia or to enter a new due to the situation in Aleppo.

As noted on Saturday, the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, with support for the new sanctions were made by the state Chancellor Angela Merkel. However, for this she will need to agree on a proposal first, with the German social Democrats as partners in the government coalition, and then with 27 colleagues from neighboring countries. In this light, the introduction of new sanctions is still extremely unlikely, the newspaper notes. But if the proposal will be supported, it will most likely sectoral restrictions against Russia’s defense industry and aviation in particular.

At the meeting of foreign Ministers of EU on Monday, the first item on the agenda which is the situation in Syria, the focus is likely to be made on the deterioration of the humanitarian situation, rather than on concrete measures against Russia. However, these measures will be discussed on Thursday-Friday at the two-day European Council (meeting of heads of state and government of the EU).

Meanwhile on the weekend the Syrian armed opposition went on the offensive near the Syrian-Turkish border and beat back the ISIL militants in the city Dabic to the North of Aleppo. For the Islamists, this city has a symbolic value: it is there supposedly going to happen a final battle between Christians and Muslims, what’s the name of the city is the propaganda magazine published by ISIS.