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Russia Closes Hmeimim Attacks File, Faces Challenge of 'Saving' Sochi Talks

Russia Closes Hmeimim Attacks File, Faces Challenge of 'Saving' Sochi Talks

Sunday, 14 January, 2018 - 09:15
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova. Reuters

Russia has focused its efforts on the Syrian crisis to avoid the repercussions of the attacks on Russian air bases in Syria and push upward again the Syrian dialogue conference in Sochi at the end of January.

In this context, Russia's defense ministry said Friday it tracked down and killed the group of militants responsible for a recent coordinated drone attack against it Hmeimim air base in Syria.

By this move, Russia has put an end to the widespread debate over the attacks and Russia's possible response, especially after Russian officials have confirmed that a state with advanced technology has helped insurgents and paid them to carry out the operation.

The connection between the attacks and the Sochi conference was evident in the statements made by more than one Russian official, most recently was Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, who said that those behind the attacks on Russian bases aimed at obstructing the process of political settlement of the Syrian crisis.

"Since Sochi conference’s function is part of the political settlement, it was targeted by those who seek to destabilize the situation in Syria,” Zakharova added.

She said that Russia still proceeds from the fact that the Syrian National Dialogue Congress will be held in Sochi late January.

“To date, we assume it to be held in late January,” the diplomat said, answering a question on the terms for the event.

“Work on the lists of participants is currently underway,” she said, adding that “as soon as we are able to confirm the precise date and lists of those invited, we will surely do it.”

For his part, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov held a series of meetings with Arab ambassadors is Moscow last week that focused on the Syrian file and settlement efforts.

The Special Representative of Russian President for the Middle East and Africa held separate talks with the ambassadors of Kuwait and Egypt as the Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed that these talks dealt in particular with the efforts of the Syrian settlement.

Russia still counts on holding a Syrian dialogue conference in Sochi at the end of this month, but its efforts are facing serious challenges.

There is concern in some circles in Moscow of political failure if Moscow could not contain the military escalation in Syria.

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