Russian President Vladimir Putin distanced his country from Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria, after talks with EU leaders in Brussels on December 21. His statements indicate that Europe and Russia may have come to some kind of agreement over Syria’s future.
Russia, he said, is not “a defender for the current Syrian leadership.” Instead, he said there is a “need to agree how Syria is to be governed.” Mr. Putin said he would support a democratic regime there. But he made clear that he still does not support military action or increased sanctions.
The Associated Press notes that “Putin’s statement reflected attempts by Russia to distance itself from the Syrian regime.”
Last month, Andrew Miiller wrote that “with Russia funneling cash to the Assad regime and Germany giving politico-military support to the rebels, the entire Syrian civil war can be viewed as a proxy war between Moscow and Berlin.”
Mr. Putin’s comments could be the first indications that this war is coming to an end.
Something like this is to be expected. Though German and Russian relations are on a short-term dip at the moment, overall the two countries remain close. They have a lot of common interests. To really be powerful on the world scene, Germany has to be sure Russia isn’t working against it behind its back.
That doesn’t mean some kind of deal was made at the summit. The EU officials present aren’t the big players in this game. Germany is Russia’s closest and most important partner in Europe. The German-Russian relationship is the one to watch. Putin’s statements indicate he is at least leaving the door open for a deal with Germany.
What happens in Syria is very important for the Middle East. But it also reflects on relations around the world. Bible prophecy shows us that the Syrian government will end up an ally of Germany. Russia could try and fight that. It’s more likely that the two sides will come to an arrangement.
Watch German-Russian relations to see if this will happen. If Russia gives way easily, watch for it to receive something in return: less opposition to Russian energy companies in Europe, or a blind eye turned to Russia’s attempts to regain control of former Soviet countries, for example.
Ultimately, the German-Russian relationship is vital for world stability. Historically, Germany secures assurances from Russia before going on the offensive. As Germany grows more powerful, watch for it to seek the same assurances.
For more information on this history, see our article “A New Strategic Partnership Emerges.” ▪