Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (Photo credit: Kremlin.ru)
The Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergei Lavrov, claimed that the United States is “playing with fire” by engaging in operations along the shared border between Iraq and Syria, particularly by supporting and promoting separatist militants linked to the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Press TV reported on 6 February.
“Americans encourage Kurdish separatism one way or another and ignore other matters, including the territorial integrity of Syria, warning that such an approach exposes other countries in the region to ensuing dangers and threats,” the Russian top diplomat said at a press conference in Baghdad with his Iraqi counterpart, Fuad Hussein.
As a result of persistent raids and the detention of residents by US-backed militants, Raqqa, Hasakah, and Dayr al-Zawr provinces in northern and northeastern Syria have witnessed a decline in security.
Locals claim that the SDF’s ongoing raids and arrest campaigns have harmed their businesses and way of life by causing a condition of dissatisfaction and instability.
The SDF-affiliated councils have also been charged with financial misconduct. They are alleged to be misusing donor funds, ignoring services, and failing to provide for basic needs.
The Russian foreign minister continued by saying that his country values the Astana peace talks and is still actively engaged in efforts for a peaceful resolution of the situation in Syria.
“We consider Iraq’s observer status at the Astana talks, with Iran, Russia, and Turkiye acting as the guarantor states, to be very useful. We will continue our interactions and welcome the participation of Iraq as an observer. Jordan and Lebanon also play the same role,” he stated.
Lavrov arrived in Baghdad on 5 February for talks with the spokesperson of his Iraqi counterpart, Ahmed al-Sahhaf, to discuss food security, energy cooperation, and exchange views on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
According to Sahhaf, the Russian foreign minister led a delegation of “oil and gas companies investors” to Iraq and was received by his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein, Baghdad’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, parliament speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi, and the Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid, on 6 February.
Lavrov said during his meeting with the Iraqi prime minister that Russian President Vladimir Putin sends his warm regards and is preparing to meet with him.