Here’s the story from Reuters:
A United Nations envoy halted his attempts to conduct Syrian peace talks on Wednesday after the army, backed by Russian air strikes, advanced against rebel forces north of Aleppo, choking opposition supply lines from Turkey to the city.
Another senior U.N. official said the Russian escalation was the main reason for the suspension of the peace talks, which have made little progress since beginning earlier this week.
Staffan de Mistura announced a three-week pause in the Geneva talks, the first attempt to negotiate an end to Syria’s war in two years, saying they needed immediate help from the rival sides’ international backers, principally the United States and Russia.
“I have indicated from the first day that I won’t talk for the sake of talking,” the envoy, who has described the negotiations as Syria’s last hope, told reporters.
Damascus and Moscow probably don’t even want to talk just yet, given the improving situation on the ground:
De Mistura has said a ceasefire is essential but Russia refused to suspend its air strikes. They helped government forces end a three-and-a-half year siege of the Shi’ite towns of Nubul and al-Zahraa on Wednesday, a step towards recapturing all of Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city before the war.
Aleppo is kind of a big deal, being the largest city in Syria and the lynchpin of rebel holdings in the north. Without it, the northern rebels lose most (all?) of their access to Turkey, leaving them effectively cut off. Assad would also be freed to turn his attention to the remaining rebel strongholds down south near the Israeli border.
As for ISIS forces in Syria’s east, they’re somebody else’s problem:
Britain accuses Russia of trying to carve out mini-state for Assad in Syria
Britain has said Russia could be trying to carve out an Alawite mini-state in Syria for its ally President Bashar al-Assad by bombing his opponents instead of fighting Islamic State militants.
Russia and Britain have been engaged in a war of words after British foreign secretary Philip Hammond said on Monday that he believed president Vladimir Putin was worsening the Syrian civil war by bombing opponents of Isis.
Well of course Putin has directed his expeditionary force against the Syrian rebels instead of against ISIS.
So long as ISIS remains focuses on the Middle East and attacking the West, they really are none of Putin’s problem. That may change in the future, but right now Putin has more pressing concerns closer to Damascus.
As Longtime Sharp VodkaPundit Readers™ have known for months, Putin is more likely than Obama to get what he wants in Syria for two reasons. One, Putin actually knows what he wants; and Two, Putin’s objectives are limited and achievable. Putin doesn’t need — or necessarily even want — to clear 100% of Syria of ISIS forces. As the British correctly surmise, all Putin needs to do is forge a “mini state” large enough to keep his ally Assad in power. After that is done, then the UN can grant its official blessing to a de facto partition of Syria along Russia’s lines.
Most importantly, even a limited win in Syria would demonstrate to the world the effectiveness of Russia’s friendship, of Russian arms, and of the Russian way of war.