Tensions Between U.S. and Russia Bleed Over Into Syrian Peace Effort

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Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/syriafreedom/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/syriafreedom/

Tensions between Russia and the United States have been building over Russia’s upcoming annexation of the Crimean region in Ukraine, a move that is drawing harsh international criticism and threats of increasingly harsh sanctions and isolation. Recently, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry noted that despite the international disagreement, both countries have, for the most part, been able to continue dealing with other important issues. “On Iran, on Syria, on other things we’ve been able to cooperate, even as we have some … serious differences on other things,” said Kerry Tuesday. Now though, that optimism seems to have run out when faced with the new reality. Wednesday saw both Syria and Russia deeply critical of the U.S.’s latest policy decision to freeze operations at the Syrian embassy in Washington and its consulates in other locations.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry called the move a violation of international diplomatic conventions via a state TV broadcast, according to Reuters, and Moscow in turn said that it was “worrying and disappointing.” The overall chill in the U.S. and Russian relationship is perhaps leaking over into peace efforts in Syria, with Russian Foreign Ministry saying that the U.S. was pushing for a “regime change” with this latest decision. In the past, the United States and especially Secretary John Kerry have made no secret of the insistence on the removal of Syria’s current President Bashar al-Assad.

Daniel Rubinstein, Special Envoy for Syria, gave his statement Wednessday, explaining that after the Syrian Embassy had announced it would be ending “its provision of consular services” and in light of “the atrocities the Assad regime has committed against the Syrian people, we have determined it is unacceptable for individuals appointed by that regime to conduct diplomatic or consular operations in the United States.”

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