Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed skepticism about the US withdrawal from Syria announced by President Trump last week.
Since the initial announcement of the move on Wednesday, Trump has defended the controversial move from critics, citing the fact that ISIS has “largely been defeated.”
"On Syria, we were originally going to be there for three months," Trump wrote over the weekend. "And that was seven years ago - we never left.”
"When I became President, ISIS was going wild. Now ISIS is largely defeated and other local countries, including Turkey, should be able to easily take care of whatever remains. We’re coming home!" he added.
On Monday, it was reported that Trump was handing over the reins to Turkey to finish off ISIS in Syria. Trump later said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was “a man who can” finish off ISIS in Syria.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, however, expressed skepticism about the extent of the American withdrawal.
In an interview with the Russian Sputnik news agency published on Monday, Lavrov said that “[ISIS] in Syria has been crushed but the US does not withdraw its forces.”
“In fact, we are talking about the American occupation of almost 30% of the country's territory,” he added. “With the assistance of the United States in these areas, self-governing bodies are being created that do not subordinate to the central authorities. This leads to a destabilization of the military and political situation in the country, hampering the settlement process.”
“It will not be easy to solve the problem of the illegal, armed presence of the United States on Syrian territory,” Lavrov asserted. “Washington is constantly putting forward new conditions that violate the sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity of [Syria] despite the fact that these principles are enshrined in the main resolutions of the UN Security Council.”
“Let's see how this ‘withdrawal’ from Syria, announced by President Donald Trump, will play out,” Lavrov concluded.