Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is expected to contact Donald Trump once he takes over in the White House to get his agreement on bombing targets in Syria.
The Russian ambassador to London, Alexander Yakovenko, said Putin had been trying to persuade outgoing President Barack Obama to agree to Russian pilots bombing rebel targets.
But relations between Obama and Putin are at a low ebb and the Kremlin has been cold shouldered by the lame duck president.
Mr Yakovenko told the Sunday Mirror: ‘Use of the air force in Syria is part of a diplomacy backed by force.
‘We have been trying to coordinate with this US Administration. We’ll continue doing so with the next one.’
Britain and the US wanted to impose ‘no fly zones’ above Aleppo to stop the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians on the ground by Russians planes targeting rebels in the east of the city.
After a three-week peace Russian and Syrian jets returned to the skies this week and killed at least 30 people – a mixture of rebels and civilians – and also targeted a children’s hospital.
Putin’s priority is maintaining in power the regime of President Bashar al-Assad who, along with his late father Hafez, have been long-term allies of Russia and the Soviet Union.
Trump’s priority is the destruction of ISIS and he is thought to be willing to offer a deal to Russia whereby Assad stays in power and the two superpowers cooperate on destroying ISIS’s stronghold in Raqqa, eastern Syria.
The Russians claimed that if they had not sent their jets in when they did ISIS and their allies would have taken over the Syrian capital, Damascus.
Mr Yakovenko said today: ‘The foreign terrorist organisations, proscribed by the UN, such as ISIS and “Nusra”, are the single most important factor that distorted the entire setup in Syria. In fact, the terrorists are leading the opposition militarily, including in east Aleppo.’
He said: ‘If they call the tune on the battlefield, they’ll do the same in Syria if they prevail. Our only strategy in Syria is to allow the Syrians to decide for themselves.’
Mr Yakovenko said Syrians who opposed Assad should ‘disengage from the terrorists’ and he assured them they would be offered places at the negotiating table in Geneva.
The pair spoke on the phone this week and Putin said afterwards he looked forward to a relationship based on ‘equality, mutual respect, and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.’
They also agreed to meet face-to-face.
In September Putin and Obama met at the G20 summit in Beijing but the body language between them was incredibly frosty.
Obama’s famous ‘Russian reset’ policy, which he launched in 2009, collapsed in 2014 after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula and supported ethnic Russian rebels fighting the Ukrainian government.
Russia caused an international crisis with its incursion into Crimea, a move that subjected Putin’s regime to European, international, and U.S. sanctions.
Sanctions the administration slapped on his regime even targeted some of the oligarchs close to Putin.
According to the Kremlin, Trump and Putin agreed during their phone call this week that current US-Russia ties were ‘unsatisfactory’ and spoke about cooperation on a ‘broad range of issues.’