Lavrov meets with Syrian Kurdish delegation in Moscow amid visit by Turkish officials

(Updated with the Russian Foreign Ministry statement on the meeting)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was pictured on Monday with a delegation form Syria’s Democratic Union Party (PYD), a group designated a terrorist organisation by Ankara, in Moscow, in a meeting that coincided with a visit from a high level Turkish delegation to the Russian capital.

Ankara considers the PYD and its associated armed group, the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG), as terrorist organisations due to their links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for Kurdish self-rule and autonomy against the Turkish state for four decades. 

Turkish Foreign Ministry released a statement to express Ankara’s “concern” with regarding Monday’s meeting.

“We are following with concern the reports on the invitation of a group of elements belonging to the PKK/YPG-dominated so-called “Syrian Democratic Council” to the Russian Federation and the high-level reception given by the Russian official authorities,” the statement said. 

"Combating terrorism in all forms and manifestations, and standing against separatist agendas aimed at undermining the territorial integrity of Syria as well as threatening the national security of neighbouring countries constitute common commitments enshrined in the joint statements of the high-level Astana-format meetings held to date,” the Foreign Ministry said, referring to the Astana meetings.

In neither the Astana nor Sochi agreements, were the PYD or other Syrian Kurdish groups cited as terrorist organisations.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also released a statement on the meeting. According to TASS,

The ministry stated that Lavrov had discussed the issues of Syrian regulation, namely, the reaching of inter-Syrian agreements based on Resolution 2254 of the UN Security Council, with co-chair of the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Council Ilham Ahmed and leader of the Popular Front for Change and Liberation Qadri Jamil. "Sergey Lavrov has reaffirmed Russia’s readiness to continue aiding the promotion of inclusive constructive inter-Syrian dialogue in the interest of the soonest recovery and reinforcement of Syria’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, the formation of conditions for harmonious co-existence and development of all ethnic and religious parts of the Syrian society."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has condemned Washington for its support to the Syrian Kurds for number of years and during dozens of different occasions and often cites their support for the group as one of the reasons why Turkey turned its face to Russia and Russian made weapons, such S-400 air defence missile system.

The Turkish president on numerous occasions in recent years has accused Washington of trying to build what Ankara calls as a “terrorist state” in the south of Turkey.  

U.S.-backed- Syrian Kurdish organisations have played a key role in the international fight against the extremist jihadist Islamic State (ISIS), since 2014.

The statement by Turkey’s Foreign Ministry also pointed to a high-level diplomatic visit by Deputy Foreign Minister Ambassador Sedat Önal to Moscow for political consultation as head of the Turkish delegation. 

Russia does not recognize the PKK as terrorist organisation, as opposed to the European Union, the United States and most of Western countries do. There is no other state, beside Turkey, recognises the PYD, YPG or the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), all Syrian Kurdish entities, as terrorist organisations.


The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.