Russian attempts to prop up Bashar al-Assad while claiming support for a peace process in Syria are “completely discordant thoughts and discordant actions,” a U.S. official said Friday.
“You can't prop up the Assad regime and make it easier for him to kill his own people, and say out the other side of your mouth that you want to pursue this political transition and a peace process,” said State Department spokesman John Kirby.
Moscow initiated a recent series of peace talks led by UN Special Envoy Stefan De Mistura in Vienna and Geneva but the latest effort to get warring parties to the negotiating table was suspended earlier this week without any meaningful progress on ending the war or improving humanitarian access in Syria.
A spokesman for the Kremlin said Moscow wants to support the peace process while providing military backing for the Assad government.
But Russian airstrikes on opposition-held areas in the war-torn country have damaged civilian accommodated areas and allowed Assad’s forces to take on opposition-held cities.
Several towns and cities, including Syria’s second-largest city of Aleppo, are currently under a government siege that has left hundreds of thousands of civilians deprived of humanitarian assistance.
“The more Assad feels emboldened, the more he is reassured of his power and influence, the less likely -- in fact, there's no likelihood of peace in Syria,” Kirby said.
Noting that he does not know whether Moscow is bluffing about its alleged support for peace, Kirby said the Kremlin is sending mixed messages.
“Everything we've seen them do certainly would indicate or signal that they believe, despite what they've said, that there's a military solution to this conflict,” he said, noting that the U.S. continues to believe that there is no military solution in Syria.