Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has criticized Syrian Kurds for failing to adhere to an agreement reached between Turkey and Russia, saying that the Kurds lost enthusiasm for efforts to resolve the situation in northeastern Syria as soon as U.S. troops returned to the country’s north.
“I would advise Kurdish political leaders to stick to their word,” TASS cited Lavrov as saying on Nov. 26.
Turkey launched its Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria on Oct. 9, following U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the area.
The incursion aimed to clear the border from Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and to establish a safe zone for the return of over one million refugees.
Following criticism against the offensive from both Russia and the U.S., Turkey signed two separate deals with Washington and Moscow on Oct. 17 and Oct. 22, respectively, paving the way for the withdrawal of the militants of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which is the backbone of the SDF, from the planned safe zone area.
“Right after the memorandum had been signed [in Sochi] on Oct. 22, we obtained Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s consent to implement it, and Kurdish leaders vigorously assured us that they would cooperate,” Lavrov said.
“However, in just a few days the United States changed its position and said that when withdrawing troops from Syria, they [the Americans] had forgotten about the need to protect oil fields to make sure that the Syrian government did not take control of them, and the Kurdish leadership immediately lost enthusiasm for cooperation in accordance with the Sochi agreement and once again opted to rely on the United States’ support,” the Russian top diplomat added.
Lavrov also urged the Kurds to be “consistent,” while saying that they need to understand that efforts to ensure their rights require maintaining Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“To achieve this goal, they should build meaningful dialogue with the Syrian government. Once the Americans announced their withdrawal from Syria, they [the Kurds] expressed readiness for dialogue but later they returned to a rather unconstructive position. So I would advise our Kurdish colleagues to be consistent and refrain from taking questionable actions as the situation changes,” he added.
When commenting on reports regarding Turkey planning to violate the Sochi memorandum, the Russian Foreign Minister noted that Moscow did not have “information proving that Turkey plans to violate it.”