Following a series of telephone conversations between the Foreign Ministers of Russia, Iran and Syria, the Russians have agreed to host in Moscow on Friday 14th April 2017 a meeting of the three countries’ foreign ministers. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov is also due to hold bilateral talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Muallem the day before this tripartite meeting takes place.
Holding a foreign ministers’ conference in Moscow on Friday means that the Russians will be able to brief the Iranians and the Syrians in private about the discussions they are currently having with US Secretary of State Tillerson in Moscow, and agree a joint diplomatic and political strategy with the Iranians and the Syrians in response to the US actions.
Here is how Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokesman, explained the purpose of the meeting
On April 14, a trilateral meeting of foreign ministers of Russia, Syria and Iran will take place in Moscow. [The ministers[ will discuss measures needed to coordinate trilateral steps, so as not to let the situation aggravate and the efforts for a political settlement in Syria be derailed amid the US’ armed aggression against Damascus.
The reason this meeting is being held face-to-face rather than by way of a video or telephone conference – which would be easier and faster to arrange – is because the Russians, the Iranians and the Syrians do not want the CIA and the NSA listening in to their discussions. Holding the meeting in person in Moscow in a room secured against electronic eavesdropping ensures this.
To the extent that there is a strategy behind the Trump administration’s diplomatic moves since the missile strike, it is to try to persuade the Russians to abandon the Iranians and the Syrians to their fate in return for better relations with the US.
The Russians will be making it clear to US Secretary of State Tillerson during the current talks in Moscow that that will not happen, and they will use the talks with the Iranians and the Syrians on Friday to reassure them of this.
The forthcoming meeting of the Russian, Iranian and Syrian foreign ministers in Moscow shows that the US has actually achieved the opposite of what it says is its strategy. Instead of the Russians abandoning the Iranians and the Syrians, the missile strike is bringing them closer together.