Russia has invited the head of the main Syrian opposition for talks. The Associated Press reports that foreign minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters today that he has officially contacted the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces through the Russian Embassy in Egypt.
The move is the most overwhelming sign yet that Russia’s support for the Assad regime has deteriorated significantly. Russia has been Syria’s most important ally in the conflict to date.
Although Moscow has not officially recognised the SNC as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people — as the U.S., U.K., and France have — the invitation signals that Russia recognises the importance and influence that the coalition holds.
Perhaps due to a clever PR move, Russia’s shift comes at the same time as a controversial and aggressive move regarding U.S. adoptions.
Just hours after the meeting’s announcement, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law an anti-adoption bill that bars U.S. citizens from adopting Russian children. The bill is the latest move in a diplomatic spat between the two states that has occupied the international spotlight for the past month. It is widely perceived as a retaliatory measure taken against the U.S. in response to a trade bill that levies sanctions alleged Russian human rights abusers.
Most U.S. news outlets appear to be focusing on Russia’s aggressive move, not the retreat.