Tuesday 17 October 2017

Tony Brenton: The West is starting to move Russia's way - on Syria, on Isil... and even on Ukraine

The West is starting to move Russia's way - on Syria, on Isil... and even on Ukraine, says Tony Brenton

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin

Tony Brenton

Meetings between heads of government have become commonplace - but tomorrow's between Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin is something special.

They have not met formally for nearly two and a half years. The last encounter, planned, for August 2013, was brusquely cancelled by Obama because "there was nothing to talk about". The main undiscussable issue was Syria. The US wanted President Assad instantly out; Russia feared chaos without him. The Ukraine crisis pushed the relationship further downhill. Russia, seeing a Western attack on its interests, responded by seizing Crimea and supporting separatist war in eastern Ukraine. The West retaliated with tough sanctions. Even co-operation to achieve this year's Iran agreement (which needed Russian Security Council assent) did not lift the Obama/Putin chill.

So tomorrow's meeting is a dramatic reversal. Already the two sides are spinning it differently.

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