Russia has hosted various talks between Syria and Turkey (at lower levels--their heads of state refuse to meet) in attempt to mitigate or solve the issue of the presence of Turkish troops in Syria, which the latter officially regards as unjustified occupation, e.g.:

Encouraged by President Bashar al-Assad's ally Russia, Syrian and Turkish officials held meetings last year, in a move towards normalising ties between states on opposing sides of Syria's 12-year-long conflict.

But Assad this month ruled out any meeting with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan until Turkey is ready to withdraw its military from northern Syria, deemed occupying forces by the Syrian president. [...]

"However, since there will be no ministerial-level participation and the meeting will be at a technical level, significant decisions are not expected."

What is Russia's position regarding this Turkish military presence in Syria though? Do they condemn it? If so, in what terms and how often?

FWTW, there's a UNSC resolution (2336 from 2016) which mentions no occupation whatsoever, but

Welcomes and supports the efforts by Russia and Turkey to end violence in Syria and jumpstart a political process, and takes note of the documents issued by Russia and Turkey in this regard.

Although of course passing a condemnation in the UN is much harder than issuing one to the press on your own. So, did Russia do the latter, sometimes, in re Turkish troops in Syria?


2 Answers 2


This is only a partial answer, but in the aforementioned submission to the UN, in fact establishes Russia and Türkiye as guarantors of a ceasefire, as agreed between the two of them. Among the measures mentioned for the enforcement thereof are for them two powers to "establish checkpoints in residential areas in the vicinity of the actual line of contact among the Parties" (the latter refers to Syrian army and opposition forces). So at least some Turkish troops' presence in Syria were thus (perhaps) considered legal by Moscow. Of note however, the Syrian gov't doesn't just sign off on that; it's a statement released only by Russia and Türkiye. (In that package, there's a separate written agreement by the SAR to a ceasefire, co-signed (just) with Russia. But that latter document makes no mention whatsoever of the Turkish troops.)

Still, I'm interested in a fuller answer.

  • "So at least some Turkish troops' presence in Syria were thus (perhaps) considered legal by Moscow" <- I don't think this necessarily follows. An agreement among two foreign powers active in a third state in the middle of a civil war might acknowledge a situation on the ground without legitimizing it permanently or fully.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 21:33
  • @einpoklum: fair enough. Come to think of it [some more], there are probably a number of ceasefire agreements that have similar characteristics (to what you mention), e.g. the one involving the [two] Koreas. Commented Dec 29, 2023 at 7:52

The cooperation between Moscow and Ankara in Syria is a good basis for both countries to test their political trust and learn to listen to the concerns of the other side, which have so far been largely ig- nored or pushed off the agenda [6]. The Syrian crisis was a test of the Russian-Turkish partnership, from the pronounced antagonism after shooting down the Russian plane in 2015, to highly coopera- tive relations in the preparation and implementation of peace processes in Astana, but they cannot be viewed separately from the development of other forms of economic and military relations2.


Russia welcomed Turkish presence and they've been collaborating to maintain peace and stability in the region as their interests aligned in Syria. Russia never condemned Turkey, although some incidents happened, they've been pushed off to the side.

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