Russia has said that it will not cooperate with the US on controlling and exploiting the oilfields in Syria, because they belong to the country and its people.
“We won’t cooperate with the Americans on the Syrian oil,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin told state news agency TASS today. “This concerns Syrian oil, which is the Syrian people’s heritage. We are convinced that it’s up to the Syrian people to manage their natural resources, including oil.”
Vershinin’s announcement follows his comments yesterday that America’s “illegal presence” of troops within Syria and exploitation of its oilfields violates international law and the war-torn country’s territorial integrity.
Russia’s decision not to cooperate with the US comes as President Donald Trump has deployed at least 800 troops in Syria in order to maintain control over the oilfields and oil reserves in the east of the country. The deployment was made despite Trump’s pledge to take all US troops out of Syria.
Moreover, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has denied any secret deals between Washington and Moscow regarding Syria, countering reports and rumours that the two are secretly cooperating and agreeing on deals. “Reaching a long term accord with a country that shows contradictory behaviour regarding improving the situation in Syria and boosting Syrian territorial integrity will not be productive,” Lavrov claimed.
The US plan to take and maintain control of Syria’s oilfields in the eastern province of Deir ez-Zor came to light late last month, when Trump announced it on Twitter and Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Riley made Washington’s intentions clear. The Defence Ministry in Moscow then accused the US of smuggling Syrian oil to other countries, with convoys of oil tankers protected by US Special Forces and private contractors.