On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaking in Hamburg on the sideline of OSCE meeting, announced that Syrian government forces have suspended “active military activities” against militants in eastern Aleppo to enable the withdrawal of civilians from the city. Lavrov added that it had been agreed that Russian and US military experts would meet in Geneva, Switzerland, on Saturday. Lavrov also met with his US counterpart John Kerry, and later in the day held a telephone call with him. Russian Foreign Minister also said that Based on the US side’s declared readiness to facilitate the withdrawal of militants from that city, the sides agreed to look into practical details of this process.
During his annual address to Russian lawmakers, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow is ready for dialogue with its international partners, but will not allow them to infringe on its interests or meddle in its decision-making. He noted, however, that Russia is ready to participate in solving global and regional crises when necessary. Putin also said that Russia’s policy towards its Asian partners, China and Japan, is not opportunistic or a response to the deterioration in US-relations, but based on Russia’s plans for long-term development. In his speech, the Russian President also urged the United States to join Russia to jointly fight international terrorism. It has been the 23rd such event in Russia’s modern history and the 13th speech delivered by Vladimir Putin.
All the armed Syrian opposition factions in the besieged districts of opposition-held eastern Aleppo have decided to dissolve their individual organisations, and will now instead reform as a newly created “Army of Aleppo”, opposition forces have declared. Although the opposition has previously united their command structures, notably leading to a brief breaking of the regime’s siege on eastern Aleppo, this is the first time that they have completely unified as a single entity. Meanwhile, the President of the Aleppo local council issued calls pleading for the Syrian regime assault to pause and for a corridor to be created to allow civilians wishing to flee the violence in Syria’s largest city safe passage.
On Wednesday, Russian Defense Minister General Sergey Shoigu and his Armenian counterpart Vigen Sargsyan signed an agreement for creating the United Group of Troops. Earlier, on November 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the idea of striking a deal with Armenia and ordered a draft agreement be sealed for the creation of the United Group of Troops in the collective security region in the Caucasus. Sargsyan also affirmed that the United Group of Troops would comprise the 102nd Russian military base deployed in Armenia and Armenian army units.The Russian and Armenian Defense Ministers also signed a cooperation plan for 2017. Shoigu added that Russian Federation is ready to expand ties with Armenia in the sphere of military education.
Russian and Uzbek Defense Ministers, Sergei Shoigu and Kabul Berdiyev, have signed an agreement on the development of military-technical cooperation and the plan of bilateral cooperation between the two countries’ Defense Ministries for 2017. Shoigu affirmed that the signing of this document will make it possible for Russian Federation to tackle the issues of equipping Uzbek Armed Forces without delay and boosting their combat capability. According to Russian Defence Minister, this concerns, first and foremost, joint steps to ensure the two countries’ military security enhance the armed forces’ combat potential, train military personnel and develop military-technical cooperation. The Minister added that the program of modernization and re-equipment of Uzbekistan’s armed forces with modern Russian weapons until 2020 is being implemented.