Europe must stand with Turkey over Putin’s war crimes in Syria
By George Soros
Mar. 4, 2020
Since the beginning of its intervention in Syria in September 2015, Russia has not only sought to keep in place its most faithful Arab ally, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. It has also wanted to regain the regional and global influence that it lost since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Vladimir Putin has sought to use the turmoil in the Middle East to erase international norms and advances in international humanitarian law made since the second world war. In fact, creating the humanitarian disaster that has turned almost 6m Syrians into refugees has not been a byproduct of the Russian president’s strategy in Syria. It has been one of his central goals.
I believe that Mr Assad is the most barbarous ruler that the world has seen since Joseph Stalin. When his own people rose up against him, he developed a military strategy designed to inflict the greatest possible harm on his civilian opponents. He deliberately targeted hospitals, schools and kindergartens, trying to kill or maim care givers. He has used poison gas and chemical attacks over the course of a conflict that has left more than half a million dead. Mr Putin has meanwhile provided him with the air power without which Mr Assad couldn’t have carried out his strategy.