Russia in Syria Monitor, May 30-June 6, 2017

Details of Russia’s military campaign in Syria:

  • Russia said on June 1 it was systematically bombing any Islamic State militants trying to flee the Syrian city of Raqqa and had carried out two such bombing runs in the last week. (Reuters, 06.01.17)
  • Russia attacked Islamic State targets in Syria with cruise missiles fired from a warship and submarine, the Russian defense ministry said on May 31. The Admiral Essen frigate and the Krasnodar submarine, operating in the Mediterranean Sea, hit sites around the Syrian city of Palmyra with four Kalibr missiles. The U.S., Turkey and Israel were notified in advance of the strikes, the ministry said. (Bloomberg, 05.31.17)
  • The Russian navy command does not plan to reduce the attack capacity of the task force permanently deployed in the Mediterranean in the near future. The Admiral Grigorovich and Admiral Essen frigates and the Krasnodar submarine of the Black Sea Fleet carrying Kalibr-NK/PL missiles are the core of the task forces' fire power. (Interfax, 06.06.17)
  • The Black Sea Fleet's Smetlivy destroyer has completed a remote deployment to the Mediterranean Sea and is returning to Sevastopol. (Interfax, 06.05.17)

Response to Russia’s military campaign in Syria:

  • No significant developments.

Risk of accidental or intentional confrontation between Western and Russian forces in Syria:

  • U.S. and Russian officials are quietly negotiating a deal over a proposed "de-escalation" zone near the border with Jordan. The talks included a meeting in Jordan in late May, a former diplomat from the region said on condition of anonymity. Russia, Iran and Turkey negotiated the creation of four zones aimed at de-escalating tensions between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces and the armed Syrian opposition in early May, and the Trump administration is now trying to see what role the United States can play. (Al Monitor, 06.01.17)

Strategies and actions recommended:

  • No significant developments.


  • No significant developments.

Other important news:

  • The Senate Banking Committee on June 1 announced a bipartisan agreement for legislation that would strengthen and expand punitive sanctions against Moscow over its military backing for the Syrian regime, seizure of Crimea and its support for armed separatists in eastern Ukraine. The bill would authorize penalties against Russia’s mining, metals and railway industries. (Foreign Policy, 06.02.17)
  • After months of hard fighting while pushing south toward the Islamic State’s home base of Raqqa, U.S.-backed Syrian Arab and Kurdish forces have finally kicked off their assault on the city, U.S. military officials said on June 6. (Foreign Policy, 06.06.17)
  • Despite pledges to account for every U.S. weapon sent to Syrian fighters battling the Islamic State, the Pentagon's current plan to ensure the weapons don't fall in the wrong hands is problematic. The weapons include Kalashnikov rifles, RPG-7s and other Soviet-style light weapons that have flooded the Middle East in past decades. (The Washington Post, 06.02.17)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin said on June 2 that Russia and the NATO military alliance need to cooperate to fight terrorism because if they do not, there will be more attacks. (Reuters, 06.02.17)
  • "I believe you have watched the first NATO summit attended by [U.S. President Donald] Trump, same as I have. I believe no comment would be necessary … We share the opinion on international terrorism, which poses the principal threat to the entire international community," Russian Security Council Assistant Secretary Alexander Venediktov said. (Interfax, 06.06.17)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan, in a phone call on June 5, have called for a dialogue and compromise in a row over Qatar, the Kremlin said. Russia sees no cause for alarm from the energy point of view after the decision by a number of Arab nations to sever diplomatic relations with Qatar, a Russian source familiar with the situation told Reuters June 5. (Reuters, 06.05.17, Reuters, 06.05.17)