By Baran Hines
Monday, the United States confirmed that it was officially ending discussions with Russia on plans to achieve a peaceful solution to Syrian proxy war, which has lasted almost 6 years. US officials had threatened for almost a week to end negotiations with Russia on the Syrian peace process.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday that there is “nothing more for the US and Russia to talk about” in Syria.
The most recent ceasefire agreement negotiated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Secretary of State John Kerry was scheduled to begin September 12 and has now officially collapsed after repeated incidents. On September 17, the United States coalition bombed Syrian troops fighting the Islamic State near the city of Deir Ezzor, killing more than 80 troops and wounding over 100. In response to that incident, which the US called an “accident”, Russia public accused the US of intentionally aiding the Islamic State.
“If previously we had suspicions that Al-Nusra Front is protected this way, now, after today’s airstrikes on the Syrian army we come to a really terrifying conclusion for the entire world: The White House is defending IS [Islamic State, formerly ISIS/ISIL],” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Rossiya 24.
The US and Russian military will continue to “deconflict” to avoid problems with their aircraft flying over Syria, US officials will withdraw staff tasked with the purpose of setting up the Joint Implementation Center (JIC) agreed to as part of the ceasefire. The JIC was designed to enable military cooperation between the two sides to target the Islamic State and the Al Nusra, the former opposition group which was declared a foreign terrorist organization in November 2012. The JIC would have been located in Geneva, Switzerland and would have allowed for sharing of intelligence between Russia and the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State.
On Monday, Russia also suspended participation in a program for disposing of plutonium from decommissioned nuclear warheads. Russian officials noted “the radical change in the environment, a threat to strategic stability posed by the hostile actions of the US against Russia, and the inability of the US to deliver on the obligation to dispose of excessive weapons plutonium under international treaties,” as explanation for the decision.