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Leonid Bershidsky

Putin May Not Really Want a Syria Deal

The Russian leader appears to be playing for time as the U.S. election campaign unfolds.
No peace for Aleppo.

No peace for Aleppo.

Photographer: KARAM AL-MASRI/AFP/Getty Images

What looked like a promising U.S.-Russian deal in Syria has collapsed amid mutual recriminations. Throughout the failed truce, Russia behaved as though it didn't attach much value to it, and it probably doesn't want an agreement with the U.S. to stick just yet.

The deal, finalized on Sept. 9 after exhausting talks, called for a week's truce to start humanitarian aid flowing to the ravaged city of Aleppo and then for the creation of a U.S.-Russian joint implementation center that would coordinate the two countries' strikes against jihadi groups such as Islamic State and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra. The process on the ground, however, never really took off. The fighting continued in the absence of an efficient cease-fire monitoring system. On Saturday, the Kremlin was outraged by an apparently erroneous air raid by the U.S.-led coalition in the vicinity of Deir ez-Zor, where, instead of bombing Islamic State positions, the allied planes dropped bombs on a surrounded unit of the Assad army, killing dozens of soldiers.