Kerry meets with Putin
David Brunnstrom, Denis Dyomkin, Reuters, Jul 15 2016
MOSCOW – Jackass Kerry met with Putin about boosting military and intelligence cooperation against ISIS and AQ in Syria and “emphasized that absent concrete, near-term steps, diplomatic efforts could not continue indefinitely,” a statement said. Jackass met Putin for three hours at the Kremlin and their talks lasted until 1 a.m. local time on Friday. The State Dept said Jackass expressed concern about repeated violations of a cessation of hostilities by the Syrian government. They also discussed the need to need to increase pressure on groups like ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra. Discussions between Jackass and Lavrov on Friday were expected to explore initiatives in more detail. On Thursday, the WaPo published a leaked document it said Jackass would put forward in Moscow calling for intelligence-sharing to identify leadership targets, training camps, supply lines and headquarters of Jabhat al-Nusra Front. It said strikes against those targets could be carried out by Pindostani or Russian jets and expanded coordination would be channelled through a Joint Implementation Group based in the vicinity of Amman. The extent of cooperation proposed in the document would represent a major Pindosi shift after years of rivalry between Washington and Moscow, which support opposing sides in Syria’s five-year civil war, but the idea has raised doubts among Pindosi defense and intelligence officials. Jackass declined to comment when asked about the document before leaving for Moscow. Kremlin’s Peskov said he would refrain from comment until Russian boxtops heard from Jackass, but that Russia in general favoured cooperation with Pindostan over Syria. Putin said at the start of his meeting with Jackass that his last conversation with Obama had convinced him that both sides were sincere in their efforts to find a solution in Syria. He told Jackass:
I hope after today’s consultations you’ll be able to advise him (Obama) of the progress made and possible headway for us to make.
Pindo boxtops described the visit as a test of Moscow’s willingness to use its influence on the Syrian government. Under the leaked plan, Pindostan and Russia would establish separate headquarters and a shared coordination office, where they would deploy senior officials, intelligence personnel and experts in strike planning and targeting. They would decide on a date to simultaneously begin strikes against Jabhat al-Nusra targets and stop all Syrian military air activities in designated areas, except for non-combat purposes and against areas where Nusra has acquired territory. The proposal also allows for Russia to use air power to defend Syrian forces from attack from Nusra within a designated area, if agreed in advance with Pindostan. A senior Pindo boxtop said before the talks:
Expectations are very low, but either we find a way to do something about it or not, and if we don’t, the entire thing breaks down. That would be an end of the cessation of hostilities, and that would not be a good thing for Russia or Pindostan or the world or most importantly the Syrian people.
Pindo boxtops said there were two major problems leading to the breakdown of Syria’s cessation of hostilities: the failure of the Syrian government to respect it and Nusra activity. A second boxtop added:
We are here to test in what is pretty much close to the end stage of whether this is going to work, to take a shot with the Russians at whether we can solve those two major problems with the cessation of hostilities and get this back on track.
Jackass faces some strong opposition to his efforts to woo Russia from hard-faced men in the Pentagon who say Washington and Moscow have diametrically opposed objectives in Syria.