In its most recent survey of the 'Politico Transatlantic Council', a group of European and American diplomats, politicians and advisors "who wrote candidly on condition they be quoted anonymously," US-based political magazine Politico found that a majority – 53%, believe that the most effective way to defeat Daesh in Syria would be "to work with Russia and Iran on a diplomatic deal with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad."
At the same time, the Caucus was split over the prospects for a thaw in relations between Russia and the West in 2016, with 45.5% of the 76 officials participating in the survey expecting relations to improve, and 54.5% suggesting, for various reasons, that they will not.
"It is time to put an end to the sanctions against Russia and to build up instead a strategic partnership," one respondent told the paper. Another suggested that economic pressures including low oil prices "will push [Moscow] toward more cooperation with the West." Others were not open to such a thaw, one participant saying that "Russia is a basket case whose only agenda is nuisance" and bullying.
At the same time, only 16% of Caucus participants said that they were in favor of putting NATO boots on the ground in Syria, with another 9% suggesting the solution is to intensify the US-led coalition's air campaign.
The big names surveyed include six ambassadors to the EU, MPs and MEPs, hawkish anti-Russian Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, neocon Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Robert Kagan, NATO Deputy Secretary-General Alexander Vershbow, former World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz and Republican US Congressman Reid Ribble.