Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu paid a visit to Damascus on March 23 for talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The official readout of the meeting states that the Russian military leader traveled to Syria “on President Putin’s instructions.”
Shoigu last visited Damascus about a year ago, on March 19, 2019. At that time, he was said to have been delivering “a message from Putin” to Assad.
Why it matters: On March 20, Putin and Assad held a telephone conversation dominated by discussion of Idlib, the Syrian Constitutional Committee and humanitarian assistance. The Russian leader congratulated his Syrian counterpart on the occasion of the Muslim holiday of Isra and Miraj.
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The Covid-19 outbreak in the region may alter the course of the Syrian war. The first case of Covid-19 was reported in Syria and there are now over 1200 cases in Turkey. Soon Turkey will have to close its borders and probably introduce emergency measures and I wonder whether they may even have to call some troops back. Russia seems to have the epidemic under control for now.