Putin has recently stepped up his nation’s pounding of Syrian city Idlib – the country’s last rebel-held stronghold after a bloody civil war. The targeting of Turkish-backed rebels is a stark change to Russia’s cooperation with President Erdogan’s forces as part of a deal agreed at Sochi earlier this year. However, a global affairs expert suggests that Russia is still fulfilling its two main objectives – supporting President Assad and maintaining Turkish relations – in order to split NATO.
It means that Russia – who are trying to balance their commitment to the two opposing forces – are playing the situation tactically.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Kyle Orton said: “The Russians are trying to restrain the offensive for now, because the fallout from it will sever their relations with Turkey.
“They want to keep stirring instability in NATO and continue pulling Turkey away from the Americans.”
Turkey made a deal with Russia and Iran at Sochi (Image: GETTY)
Erdogan has been operating agains the SDF (Image: GETTY)
Turkey currently has 12 military outposts in Idlib in order to increase its regional power and prevent Kurdish forces from growing too powerful.
The Sochi summit in February – which included Russia, Iran and Turkey – compelled Turkey to eliminate jihadist forces within the province.
Unable to do this, according to Mr Orton, they created a buffer zone to stop insurgent groups