It was obvious that Vladimir Putin was odd man out against the three other summit leaders, all of whom have not abandoned their ambition to see Bashar Assad removed from power
The summit meeting of the German chancellor and the presidents of Turkey, Russia and France in Istanbul this past Saturday has rightfully been called “unprecedented” by the world press. It was the first time Putin, Macron and Merkel sat together since the last G-20. It was the first meeting of two very different groups of backers of a Syrian settlement: the Astana Group, represented by Russia, and the so-called Small Group, represented by France and Germany. But by a conspiracy of silence its net results have been reduced by global media to the hopeful and empty generalization that “the solution to the Syrian crisis can only be political, not military” while the irreconcilable differences among the parties over how to structure the political process and what it will lead to remain unstated. Unstated not only by the French, German and Turkish media, but also by the Russian media, for which I take last night’s News of the Week with Dimitri Kiselyov on the state channel Rossiya-1 as my marker.
In this brief essay, I will focus precisely on the differing, essentially contradictory understandings of the cause of the Syrian tragedy, of the legitimacy of the Syrian government or ”regime,” and on the way that a political settlement can or cannot achieve what was not achieved on the battlefield by the opponents of President Bashar Assad.
My prime material for providing this analysis is the full video broadcast of the press conference which the four leaders held at the conclusion of their 3 hours of talks provided by Ruptly, the German affiliate of RT and posted on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cezjdhuEd18
It bears mention that such broadcasting is a very significant public service to the credit of RT and to the shame of all the mainstream Western media that denigrate the Russian news agency by calling it a propaganda outlet of the Kremlin. Full, uncut transmission of major international events represents the best side of the dis-intermediation that typifies our internet age. It allows each of us to draw our own conclusions on what transpired based on what we hear and see,