Russia is wary of Syria’s dissolution and hopes that the de-escalation zones will not become a prototype for the new borders, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a meeting with the world’s mass media bosses.

“Does the possible dissolution of Syria arouse concern? It certainly does,” the Russian leader said. “We are establishing de-escalation zones now and we are afraid that these de-escalation zones may turn into a prototype for the future borders.” He stressed that Russia wishes these safety zones “to interact with the Assad government, to start at least some kind of a dialogue, some interaction, as this would help future political cooperation in order to restore Syria’s control over its whole territory and preserve the country’s territorial integrity.”

“Is it possible or not? It may seem strange, but, to my mind, it is possible,” Putin said. “Some enclaves controlled by armed opposition not far from Damascus would be a perfect example.” As he put it, they are being controlled by the opposition instead of Bashar al-Assad’s central government, whereas people keep interacting: people from these enclaves go to work in Damascus and back home every day. “So, some kind of cooperation, some interaction is possible. This happens in everyday life. If it is possible there, why not possible in some de-escalation zone like in the Idlib province or in the south? We must be patient, treat each other with respect and follow this path,” the Russian president said.

Putin also noted that Turkey has concerns regarding terrorism, and Russia is well aware of it. “We are trying to work constructively with Turkey regarding these issues as well,” the Russian leader emphasized. “We have a similar position on Syria. If we did not share a similar approach on some key issues with Turkey, there would not be ceasefire, nor de-escalation or de-escalation zone agreements.” Putin stressed that all of this had been achieved through agreements between Russia, Turkey, Iran and, of course, of President Assad’s own accord.

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