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Putin faced no isolation by supporting Syria at the UN – expert

In his speech at the UN General Assembly Russia’s President Vladimir Putin was very critical of the United States and a bit softer with respect to the European Union, Mikhail Neyzhmakov, Head of International Policy Analysis Center at the Institute of Globalization and Social Movements, has told EADaily commenting on Putin’s address.

“By mentioning a ‘single center of domination’ he meant the United States. And he also criticized a number of events associated with the US, including the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Putin’s commentaries on the EU were much softer and contained either compassion (‘In fact, it is a new great and tragic migration of peoples, and it is a harsh lesson for all of us, including Europe’) or call for a dialogue (‘We still believe that harmonizing the integration processes within the Eurasian Economic Union and the European Union is highly promising’),” says Neyzhmakov.

“There is a general belief that Russia has always tried to contrapose the US to Europe. But in his Valdai speech last autumn, Putin mentioned the US and Europe as a whole. Perhaps, now he hopes a dialogue with the EU is reviving,” Neyzhmakov says.

According to the expert, at first look it may seem that Putin faced isolation by expressing support for his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad. But at such international forums, an attempt to please everybody may prove to be unavailing while a signal like “we don’t let down our friends” may be duly appreciated.

President Barack Obama, according to Neyzhmakov was very predictable. “In his speech there were lots of references to his country’s global mission (‘Democracy — the constant struggle to extend rights to more of our people, to give more people a voice — is what allowed us to become the most powerful nation in the world’) and calls on his partners (‘We will be stronger when we act together’),” the expert says.

According to him, Putin’s call to create “a genuinely broad international coalition against terrorism” is an attempt to force the US to listen to the views of Russia and Iran, who are not interested in the fall of the Assad regime.

“Obama does not rule out contacts with both (‘The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict’). But for him this may be just a room for maneuver,” the expert says.

Concerning Ukraine, Putin was careful (“Ukraine's territorial integrity cannot be ensured by threat of force and force of arms”), while Obama seemed to be confident in the strength of his anti-Russian sanctions though he said that talks were possible (“Not because we want to isolate Russia — we don’t — but because we want a strong Russia”). “Both sides seem to be hinting that they are tired of confrontation but neither of them seems to be ready for serious concessions. Instead, they prefer waiting to see what happens,” Neyzhmakov says.

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