The Russian President Putin and the U.S. President Trump have issued a joint statement on the situation in Syria. The statement was issued after a meeting that did not take place though the statement is the outcome of the meeting.
In fact, Putin and Trump met in Vietnam during the Asia Pacific summit while posing for a group photo, when they appeared side by side and they shook hands and exchanged a few words.
Earlier there were excited rumors and reports on a meeting between the presidents of the United States and Russia during the summit. The Russian side even expressed their readiness for a meeting at the level of the assistant to president, foreign minister, press secretary. However, first the U.S. Secretary announced that the meeting is meaningful if a result is expected, and the spokesperson for the White House stated in the morning of the summit day that no formal meeting will take place because the schedules of the sides were tightly planned. At the same time, it should not be ruled out that being in the same place could be an occasion for running into and greeting each other.
In fact, this occasion was the time of the group photo. Of course, no joint statement would be born in those few minutes. The press secretary of the Russian president announced that the statement had been drafted beforehand and has been developed by experts and approved by the foreign ministers of both sides.
The joint statement and the meeting that did not take place arouses questions. When the U.S. Secretary announced that the meeting is meaningful if there is a result, does this mean that the United States has rejected a meeting because no expected result was discerned. In that case, the result of what is a joint statement? Was the statement supposed to be “enriched” with another clause after the meeting but the sides did not come to an agreement and instead Trump and Putin shook hands?
Perhaps it is not worthwhile to pay much attention to the U.S.-Russian joint statement because there have been such statements and agreements on Syria before but they did not lead to overcoming the crisis and are simply an expression of political or military-political positional battles.
This time Trump and Putin announce that there can be no military settlement to the Syrian crisis and express their commitment to the unity and territorial integrity of Syria, as well as underline the need for free elections and forming government. At the same time, they speak about enhancing livelihood in demilitarized areas, as well as possibility to provide humanitarian assistance. The two presidents call on the other countries to join to provide humanitarian assistance.
What effect will the statement by Trump and Putin produce on the situation in the Near East? This is a question nobody can answer. In fact, the Near Eastern developments took a turn that makes the anticipation of precise forecasts meaningless. This is a geopolitical crater. It is boiling pan and it is hard to tell which side the boiling water will be spilt. Tensions followed the Kurdish referendum after the Syrian issue.
At the same time, the Trump-Putin statement is interesting not in the context of the meeting that did not take place or the high-level U.S.-Chinese meeting but the recent statement by the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on support to Christian minorities of the Near East and will start direct humanitarian assistance not through the UN because assistance provided through the UN is not effective and safe.
At the same time, interestingly, the joint statement by Trump and Putin is issued ahead of the Putin-Erdogan meeting in Sochi on November 13 where the Syrian issue is going to be the top of agenda. With a joint statement with Trump Putin gains advantage over Erdogan, considering Erdogan’s problems with the United States. By the way, interestingly, Ankara took steps to weaken tension with Washington and therefore Prime Minister Yildirim left for the United States.
It is possible that through a game with the Russian side on the one hand and the Turkish side on the other hand, the United States tried to involve both into its strategy on the Near Eastern policy.
At the same time, the Armenian-Israeli encounters draw more attention considering the nature of the Armenian-Russian relations on the one hand, and the American-Israeli relations on the other hand. Is the Armenian-Israeli relations part of the new strategy that the United States is trying to form and involve Russia in it?
On November 15, two days after the Russian visit of Erdogan on November 13, Serzh Sargsyan will visit Moscow, announcing in Yerevan before his departure that the agreements of Saint Petersburg and Geneva must be carried out.