Russia’s U.S. Ambassador Expects Compromise in Syria Talks at UN

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Russia’s U.S. Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said the United Nations Security Council is likely to reach a compromise this week on humanitarian aid to Syria, signaling that the UN’s cross-border aid isn’t going to be shut down.

Keeping aid flowing into Syria was a key request that U.S. President Joe Biden made of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin at their summit in Geneva last month. But that will require the two nations and other members of the UN Security Council to reach an accord this week.

“Let’s give an opportunity to our teams to deal with this issue, I am sure that they will find a compromise,” Antonov said on Bloomberg Television’s “Balance of Power” with David Westin. “And I hope that this compromise will meet the United States and the Russian concern as well as the Syrian people’s concern.”

The Security Council is negotiating a resolution, backed by Western countries, that’s intended to keep the current aid corridor on the Turkish border open while reopening one from Iraq. But Russia, which backs Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, has said it won’t agree to reopen closed crossings. The deadline for extending the current operation is Saturday, and aid groups say millions of lives may depend on maintaining aid deliveries.

A Biden administration official said Wednesday that the U.S. has put forward a serious and credible proposal for extending humanitarian assistance to all Syrians while meeting the vast needs that UN agencies and humanitarians have identified. The official, who asked not to be identified discussing diplomatic negotiations, said the U.S. hopes a compromise is possible, while noting that Russia has consistently said it intends to exercise its veto and end this mechanism.

Through its veto at the Security Council, Russia has been gradually reducing the cross-border aid into Syria in recent years, arguing that the operation benefits rebel-held areas and undermines the sovereignty of Assad’s regime. China’s Ambassador Zhang Jun said on Tuesday that Beijing wanted to see sanctions on Syria addressed as part of a wider solution, but U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said sanctions talks shouldn’t be tied to humanitarian aid discussions.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the U.S. effort to increase aid to Syrians has nothing to do with wider geopolitical discussions with Russia, but rather about saving lives in Syria.

“It goes without saying that any responsible country should be in favor of saving lives, and this is what this is about,” Price told reporters on Wednesday.

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