Russia will countenance an Assad exit in Syria, but not yet

June 30, 2016 10:01

MOSCOW - Russia will countenance Syrian President Bashar Assad leaving office, but only when it is confident a change of leader will not trigger a collapse of the Syrian government, sources familiar with the Kremlin's thinking say.

Getting to that point could take years, and in the meantime Russia is prepared to keep backing Assad, regardless of international pressure to jettison him, those sources said.

Such steadfast support is likely to further complicate already stalled peace talks with Assad's opponents and sour relations with Washington which wants the Syrian leader gone.

"Russia is not going to part company with Assad until two things happen," Sir Tony Brenton, Britain's former ambassador to Russia, told Reuters.

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