Financial Times reports: Russia is pressing world powers to provide Syria with billions of dollars for reconstruction to bolster its faltering efforts to resolve the Arab state’s six-year conflict.
But European and Gulf states, angered by Russia’s military intervention that tilted the war in favour of President Bashar al-Assad, will only contribute if Moscow secures a peace settlement that sets the terms for an eventual political transition, western diplomats say.
“They [Russia] go in, they mess it all up, they break everything and want everyone to pay for it,” said a European diplomat.
The issue is expected to be raised at UN-backed talks between the Syrian government and rebels that begin in Geneva on Thursday. Russia is the dominant foreign player involved in the war, but after helping broker a ceasefire between the warring parties in December, it has struggled to bring the adversaries closer to a political agreement.
Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister in charge of Middle East issues, told a meeting of EU ambassadors in Moscow last week that the reconstruction of Syria would top the agenda very soon, according to European diplomats. He said “tens of billions of dollars” would be needed, while warning that “nothing” should be expected from Russia, the diplomats said.
“The Russians really do not want to inherit a completely destroyed Syria — that’s a problem that would stick with them as long as Iraq has been haunting the Americans,” said a Middle East-based diplomat. [Continue reading…]