Russia has expressed reservations at the United States’ plan to maintain a military presence near Syria’s oil fields, even as President Donald Trump planned to pull troops out of the country’s northern territory.
Trump ordered earlier this month the withdrawal of troops from Syria’s latest battlefield that saw two U.S. partners—NATO ally Turkey and the mostly Kurdish, Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces—at war. However, the president has recently stated his intention to secure the country’s eastern oil fields.
While the stated intention was to guard the resource from once again falling into the hands of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), such a move would also prevent a reclamation of these sites by the Syrian government, an ally of Iran and Russia.
As Newsweek first reported Wednesday, one such U.S. plan involved the deployment of one half of an Army armored brigade combat team battalion, including some 30 Abrams tanks, alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces in eastern Syria. The Wall Street Journal then reported Thursday that such a move may include around 500 troops, all of whom Moscow felt were blocking Damascus’ claim to its own natural resources.
“We are definitely concerned about the fact that signals from the White House can imply the same approach aimed at maintaining conditions for continuing multi-component pressure on the legitimate authorities in Damascus,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Friday, according to the state-run Tass Russian News Agency. “That’s where we do not see eye-to-eye with the U.S. on the approach to this situation, and it cannot be otherwise.”