Russia is arousing international speculation over its intentions toward Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. On Tuesday, RIA news agency quoted a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson who was asked if saving Assad was a matter of principle for Moscow, as answering: “Absolutely not, we never said that. We are not saying that Assad should leave or stay.”
Russia intervened militarily at the end of September to support Assad by launching bombing raids on rebel groups trying to overthrow him.
Meanwhile, Moscow has shown increasing flexibility in international diplomatic efforts.
A Middle East analyst at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Irina Zvyagelskaya, said Moscow’s goal was not to support Assad but to save the Syrian state and defeat terrorist groups.
Syria’s deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad rejected the idea of a transitional period sought by Western states that want Assad removed from power.
Assad staying — who is in favour, who is against? See our interactive map for positions.