Russia’s Foreign Ministry yesterday denied that a top diplomat said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is losing control of his country, a statement that had been interpreted as signaling a shift in Russia’s assessment of the situation.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, the ministry’s point man on Syria, was quoted by two state-owned Russian news agencies on Thursday as saying that “there is a trend for the government to progressively lose control over an increasing part of the territory,” adding that “an opposition victory can’t be excluded.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry yesterday insisted in a statement that Bogdanov “has not made any statements or special interviews recently” on Syria, but was simply citing the stance of the Syrian opposition while giving a speech.
The ministry’s denial comes about 22 hours after the diplomat’s comments were made public.
Bogdanov’s comments were quoted verbatim by state-owned Russian news agencies RIA Novosti and ITAR-Tass.
The US on Thursday commended Russia for “waking up to the reality” by acknowledging the regime’s impending fall.
Analysts have viewed Bogdanov’s statement as Russia’s attempt to begin positioning itself for al-Assad’s eventual defeat.