Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said comments indicating that the United States was aiming to develop cooperation with Russia on Syria were a step in the right direction. He said he had asked the United States to provide details about the proposal.
On Wednesday, Tillerson proposed that the United States and Russia reach agreement on establishing no fly zones in Syria and on sending aid to civilians in need there. He also proposed the two countries agree on sending observers to monitor the continuing conflict.
He added the United States wanted to discuss with Russia the use of on-the-ground ceasefire observers and the coordinated delivery of humanitarian aid to Syrians.
Tillerson’s proposal has sidestepped the fact that President Bashar Assad, supported by Russia and Iran, remains determined to maintain his country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty while the United States while US officials have claimed Assad’s demise is inevtitabl3e.
Middle East Institute analyst Tom Lippman cautioned that even agreement on such measures would do nothing to end the bloody fighting in Syria or make any contribution to deciding the issue of its eventual future government.
"In my opinion such a deal might bring some humanitarian benefits but it will do nothing to resolve the basic issue: who is going to run Syria, even assuming that Syria remains a unitary state" he said.
The Department of State has confirmed that the United States is exploring options to establish a joint mechanism with Russia on Syria.
However, militant groups backed by and based in surrounding nations such as Turkey, Iraq and Saudi Arabia remain determined to carve out their own independent enclaves in Saudi Arabia.
Lippman predicted that even if Tillerson and Lavrov made progress towards boosting aid deliveries and reducing potential sources of conflict between Moscow and Washington they would not succeed in settling the Syrian conflict.
"The war will continue because nobody has been defeated," he said.
On Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that Russia's Tu-95MS long-range bombers had struck IS targets in Syria with brand-new Kh-101 cruise missiles, destroying three large terrorist arms and ammunition depots as well as a terrorist command center.
The successful air strike took place near the city of Uqayribat on the border between Hama and Homs provinces, the Defense Ministry said.
DIALOGUE BETTER THAN NOTHING
Author and political activist David Swanson also welcomed the moves towards cooperation signaled by Tillerson and Lavrov, but he agreed that much more needed to be done.
"Any US dialogue with Russia is better than its absence. Any US cooperation with Russia is better than hostility," he said. "But cooperation on the criminal enterprise of war is not the ideal outcome, nor is it a lasting solution to growing hostility."
Swanson warned that if a climate of distrust between the United States and Russia was allowed to grow, conditions throughout the Middle East would deteriorate as a result.
Lack of dialogue between the superpowers "guarantees a worsening crisis in the Middle East. It risks conflict between the US and Russia, whether accidental or intended by some elements on one or both sides," he said.
A diplomatic vacuum between the United States and Russia would give the opportunity to US warmongers to step up their efforts to dismember Syria and plot hostile actions against Iran, Swanson predicted.
"It allows US ambitions to destroy Syria and move on to Iran to continue to simmer. It continues the ongoing militarization of a population," he said.
Swanson also cautioned against Tillerson’s proposal to send more US personnel to serve as observers in Syria. He warned that any move permitting Washington to increase its representation on the ground in Syria could be then used as justification to send in further military forces.
"The proposal for the US to put more people on the ground is guaranteed to be a proposal to put armed troops on the ground. Among the horrible consequences of that will be the US reaction to the inevitable casualties," he said.
US and Russian leaders needed to work together to end the Syrian conflict and to recognize that continuing wars such as the ones still raging across the Middle East also posed dire long-term threats to the global environment and to the sustainability of human life in those regions, Swanson pointed out.
"We need cooperation instead on diplomacy, massive non-militarized unarmed aid, and a global plan to protect the climate from human destruction including, first and foremost, war-making," he said.