In a recent TV interview, leading Russian journalist Maxim Shevchenko said that the Russian position on Syria was "quite clear. We support a federation." "This has been discussed at the highest level. Syria must become a federation," he said in the interview, which was posted on the Novaya Gazeta website on March 21, 2016.
Following are excerpts:
Maxim Shevchenko: Obviously, because of Syria, there have been no sanctions. On the contrary, the Syrian operation was a breakthrough. But there was political pressure... Well, with Washington we had a consensus and cooperation. With France we almost had a military alliance. The only pressure came from Britain, because this ran counter to many British plans. Britain, as the traditional patron of the Persian Gulf countries - especially the UAE - wanted the Syrian regime to fall, Syria to be partitioned, and some of the Syrian territory to be ruled informally by the British "dominions" of the Persian Gulf.
Interviewer: We previously discussed the deployment of [Soviet] forces in Afghanistan, which was made without real deliberations with experts. No scholars of the Middle East were involved. On the issue of deploying forces to Syria, you mentioned that [leading Russian scholar Vitaly] Naumkin and others may have helped our government. But what about withdrawal of our forces? Do you see any influence of the community of experts?
Middle East studies in Russia have freed themselves from the pressure of the Israeli lobby, which was formidable regarding many "resolutions" taken on Syria. The inclination to partition Syria - into an Alawite state and so on - has clearly been an Israeli position. The Russian position today is quite clear. We support a federation. This has been discussed at the highest level. Syria must become a federation.