Despite Ukraine Tensions, Russia Still Involved in Syria

A top State Department official said he believes the European country is committed to removing Syria’s chemical weapons.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a government meeting in his Novo-Ogaryovo residence, outside Moscow on March 5, 2014.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
Add to Briefcase
Jordain Carney
March 6, 2014, 2:42 p.m.

Des­pite in­creas­ing ten­sions over Rus­sia’s oc­cu­pa­tion of Crimea, a top State De­part­ment of­fi­cial said that the situ­ation in Ukraine isn’t im­pact­ing a push to des­troy Syr­ia’s chem­ic­al-weapons ar­sen­al.

“I be­lieve Rus­sia re­mains com­mit­ted to the ob­ject here, which is the re­mov­al and de­struc­tion of all of Syr­ia’s chem­ic­al-weapons stock­pile,” Deputy Sec­ret­ary of State Wil­li­am Burns said at a Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee hear­ing Thursday about Syr­ia and Ukraine.

Des­pite be­ing seem­ingly un­re­lated, sen­at­ors fo­cused on a com­mon thread the two scen­ari­os have: Rus­sia’s in­volve­ment.

And Burns ac­know­ledged that the United States has been “frus­trated” about the Rus­si­an gov­ern­ment’s un­will­ing­ness to push harder on Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar al-As­sad’s re­gime on areas in­clud­ing in­creas­ing ac­cess to hu­man­it­ari­an aid.

Des­pite mul­tiple delays by the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment to turn over chem­ic­al ma­ter­i­als, Burns said he be­lieves it is still pos­sible to meet a mi­dyear dead­line to des­troy the coun­try’s chem­ic­al-weapons pro­gram.

“That’s an area where I be­lieve Rus­sia has a self-in­terest in try­ing to en­sure that that hap­pens, it’s not a fa­vor to the United States. It’s something that Rus­sia has com­mit­ted to, and I hope we can ac­com­plish that goal,” Burns said.

The Sen­ate hear­ing was ori­gin­ally sched­uled to fo­cus on Syr­ia’s civil war and wheth­er it is in­creas­ing ter­ror­ist activ­ity in the Middle East, but with in­creas­ing ten­sions between the West and Rus­si­an Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin, the Ukraine was ad­ded to the agenda.

“Ukraine is the 800-pound gor­illa at the mo­ment and we can’t ig­nore it, nor we can ig­nore that Rus­sia is a com­mon ele­ment in both coun­tries,” Com­mit­tee Chair­man Robert Men­en­dez said, adding that “Rus­sia’s sup­port for As­sad in Syr­ia and the Rus­si­an in­va­sion and oc­cu­pa­tion of parts of Ukraine make clear that Putin’s game isn’t 21st-cen­tury states­man­ship.”

The House voted over­whelm­ingly on Thursday to al­low the Ukraine to re­ceive $1 bil­lion in loan guar­an­tees from the State De­part­ment. The com­mit­tee is ex­pec­ted to take up an aid bill next week.

Sen. Bob Cork­er, the com­mit­tee’s top Re­pub­lic­an, cri­ti­cized the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s hand­ling of the Rus­si­an pres­id­ent, say­ing that the White House is “think­ing that someone like Putin re­acts to warmth and charm and reach-out, when what he really re­acts to is weak­ness.”

What We're Following See More »
TO SURVEY HURRICANE DAMAGE
Trump Visiting Puerto Rico Next Tuesday
39 minutes ago
THE DETAILS
TUESDAY EARLIEST DAY TO GO
Trump to Puerto Rico
41 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

"President Trump will travel to Puerto Rico next Tuesday to survey damage from Hurricane Maria, which has ravaged the island and left Americans there without power and struggling to find food and clean water. The president told reporters at the White House that damage on the ground prevents any earlier travel to the island, which he said has been 'literally destroyed.'"

Source:
SENATE COMMITTEE UNANIMOUS
Jon Huntsman Voted U.S. Ambassador to Russia
1 hours ago
THE LATEST
CITES MCDONNELL RULING
Former NY Senate Leader Skelos’ Conviction Overturned
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"A federal appeals panel on Tuesday overturned the 2015 corruption convictions of Dean G. Skelos, once the powerful majority leader of the New York State Senate, and his son, Adam B. Skelos, citing a decision last year of the United States Supreme Court that narrowed the legal definition of corruption. The ruling comes roughly two and a half months after another appellate panel cited the same Supreme Court decision to vacate the conviction of Sheldon Silver, the former longtime Democratic speaker of the State Assembly."

Source:
SLASHING CORPERATE RATE
WH, GOP Finalizing Tax Cut Plan
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login