MOSCOW (TASS) – The U.S. continues to play with fire and encourage Kurdish separatism in the Syrian Arab Republic in every possible way, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday following his talks in Baghdad with Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein.
“We have a very important aspect of cooperation - which is to facilitate a Syrian settlement. A four-party information center operates in Baghdad, which has proved its relevance in efforts to eradicate hotbeds of terrorism in the neighboring Syrian Arab Republic, where, like in Iraq, most of the population is Kurds and where, unfortunately, our American colleagues keep playing with fire, encouraging Kurdish separatism in every way,” the top Russian diplomat said.
The U.S. ignores not only Syria’s territorial integrity but also the risks that such U.S. “flirtation” creates for other countries in the region with a Kurdish population, Lavrov pointed out.
Security conditions have been deteriorating in the areas controlled by the U.S.-led SDF in Syria’s northern and northeastern provinces of Raqqah, Hasakah, and Dayr al-Zawr amid ongoing raids and arrests of civilians by the U.S.-sponsored militants.
Locals argue that SDF’s constant raids and arrest campaigns have generated a state of frustration and instability, severely affecting their businesses and livelihoods.
Residents accuse the U.S.-backed militants of stealing crude oil and failing to spend money on service sectors.
Local councils affiliated with the SDF have also been accused of financial corruption. They are said to be embezzling funds provided by donors, neglecting services, and not meeting the basic needs.
The Russian foreign minister noted that Moscow continues to work on negotiations within the Astana format for the peaceful settlement of Syria conflict, and regards the peace talks as useful.
“We consider Iraq’s observer status at the Astana talks, with Iran, Russia and Turkey acting as the guarantor states, to be very useful. We will continue our interactions and welcome participation of Iraq as an observer. Jordan and Lebanon also play the same role,” Lavrov said.
The Russian foreign minister spoke of a “vital importance” to “safeguard” bilateral economic ties with Iraq against “illegal sanctions” imposed on his country by the United States and its allies due to the conflict in Ukraine.
Lavrov said Russia had already invested some $13 billion in Iraq, arguing that Russian oil companies have not received outstanding payments because of the West’s coercive measures.