This week I took part in a New York Times debate on the Syria stalemate between Russia and the West. I argued that Russia can play a pivotal role in ending the conflict if the Syrian opposition and the West can reassure Putin that the benefits of Assad’s departure will outweigh any potential burdens for Russia.
Radwan Ziadeh, a member of the Syrian National Council, argued that a shift in Russia’s position is unlikely due to the complicated mix of motivations behind Russia’s continued support for the Assad regime.
Mona Yacoubian of the Stimson Center suggested that the international conference in Geneva proposed by UN special envoy Kofi Annan could provide an opening for Russia to reframe its position on the crisis.
Sharmine Narwani of Oxford University expressed little hope that Russia’s position will change and argued that removing Assad is simply not on Russia’s to-do list for Syria.
You can read the full debate here.