image Photo: Reuters

Russia, Syria sign new deals amid US sanctions

A senior Russian delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, concluded an official visit to Damascus by signing a series of bilateral agreements in the sectors of finance, infrastructure, energy and offshore gas exploration.

“The new agreement includes the extension of the commercial and economic cooperation between Russia and Syria in 40 new projects including rebuilding of the energy stations and infrastructure in addition to the rebuilding of hydroelectric stations that were built by Soviet Union Experts,” declared Borisov, adding that another deal was reached to permit “a Russian company to extract oil from the Syrian sea.”

The Russian Deputy Prime Minister went on to condemn the United States and other Western countries for sanctioning Syria over atrocities committed during the years-long civil war. “The sanctions against Syria, known as the Caesar Act, aren’t allowing investment to be attracted into the Syrian economy and, in fact, this is a blockade, a destructive position by the United States and western countries that we are making joint efforts to break through,” he said.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Muallem welcomed Russia’s growing economic investment in the war-torn country – which appears to reflect rising interest in the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. Mualem, however, maintained that the latest deals – which deepens Damascus’ reliance on Moscow – were not politically motivated.

“There is no connection between the economy and the political relations,” he stated, asserting “Our economic relations are developing and progressing to the benefit of two peoples, Syrians and Russians. And I said I am optimistic and promise our people that the general economic situation will get better in the upcoming days and months.”