Russian president appears to be investing political capital in attaining truce a reality, phoning leaders in key countries as well as ordering cut in airstrikes
Vladimir Putin has taken personal charge of efforts to turn a Syrian ceasefire into reality this weekend, holding a frantic round of phone calls with world leaders and instructing the Russian military to reduce the number of airstrikes over past two days.
The Russian president spoke by phone to leaders in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Syria in an attempt to garner is supportive of the ceasefire, and explain its complex details.
He has also opened a coordination centre to which the warring parties can send complaints of specific the violations of the truce. Some armed groupings of Syria have already signed up to the truce, according to Russia. Jihadi groups Islamic State and al-Nusra Front are excluded under the terms of the ceasefire, agreed between Washington and Moscow on Monday. It is not clear whether all Syrian opposition groups some with indirect links to al-Nusra Front will sign up to those terms, threatening the ceasefires credibility.
The opposition parties, assembled under the Saudi-sponsored negotiating committee, have not given a definitive endorsement of the truce. The opposition fears Syrian government forces-out, backed by the Russian air force, will continue to attack rebels under the pretext of targeting al-Nusra.
There is also scepticism in London about the Russian initiative being genuine, and not an effort to buy time and strengthen the Syrian army.
The UK has long been doubtful that Russias foreign secretary, Sergei Lavrov, is the decisionmaker on Moscows Syrian policy, arguing that Putin calls the shots with a small coterie of national security advisers. That Putin is injecting political capital into the ceasefire process may therefore be encouraging.
In a space of three hours on Wednesday, he spoke on the phone to the Saudi Arabias King Salman, Irans president, Hassan Rouhani, Syrias president, Bashar al-Assad, and Israels prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.
It is possible Putins close involvement is a sign that he recognises the civil war , now entering its fifth year, will not objective through military means, and that he gauges the geographical gains made by the Syrian government forces-out particularly around Aleppo in the past three months have sufficiently strengthened Assads hand at the negotiating table.
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