Russia does not believe a potential military operation by Turkey against Kurdish militias in Northern Syria would “Contribute to security and stability” in the Arab Republic, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Wednesday.
President Vladimir Putin’s Special Envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentyev noted that, in Moscow’s eyes, such an incursion on the part of Ankara “This would lead to instability and could be ill advised.” Russia is planning to urge Turkey to try to resolve any issues peacefully, the official added, speaking on Wednesday at the beginning of an international meeting on Syria in Kazakhstan’s Nur Sultan.
Last month Turkey announced its plans for a military offensive in Northern Syria, with the establishment of a 30-kilometer “safe zone” along the Syrian border named as its key objective. Earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan explained that his country’s Armed Forces would launch an “anti-terrorist” operation, targeting the northern Syrian cities of Tal Rifat and Manbij which have large Kurdish populations and are currently controlled by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Kurdish group. Addressing lawmakers from the ruling Justice and Development Party, he added that the military would then move “You will be able to move step by step through other parts of the country.” The Turkish leader didn’t specify when exactly the operation would begin.
Turkey considers Kurdish militias in northern Syria to be an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara has designated as a terrorist organization.
Speaking by phone with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in late May, Erdogan argued that the creation of a “safe zone” in Northern Syria was “imperative.”
Commenting on Ankara’s plans, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in turn made it clear that the Turkish operation was “Something that would be opposed by us.” The American diplomat warned that “Any new offensive could undermine regional stability.”
Recent years have seen several Turkish military forces enter Syrian territory.
In October 2019, Ankara deployed its military to the north of the neighboring country in what it codenamed as ‘Operation Peace Spring.’ Hostilities came to an end after President Erdogan met with his Russian counterpart and sealed a deal, according to which a 30-kilometer buffer zone was to be established in Northern Syria, free from Kurdish armed groups. Similar military incursions took place in Ankara’s 2016 and 2018 years.
Russian news agency TASS claims that Turkey and Ankara supported local militias control as much as 10% of the Syrian territory. It includes approximately 4.4 million people.
Turkey claims that its actions are only in self defense and preventing the creation of an hostile Kurdish region on its southern border. Syrian authorities have repeatedly condemned the Turkish occupation of their territory.