The seventh round of the Astana process on peace in Syria began in Astana with the support of Russia and Iran.  Discussions have maintained previous agreements on the Astana process on the exchange of prisoners, prisoners of war and missing persons. The guarantor countries – Russia, Turkey and Iran – confirmed the consensus on the need to find a political solution in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2254.  It seemed that a breakthrough and a way out had been created. The Sochi agreement was seen as a temporary instrument on which to build a solid basis for resolving conflicts in the northwestern regions of Syria. However, this never happened and the situation in Idlib has become uncontrollable. Clashes between the opposition and the regime, initially sporadic, turned into a military confrontation in the spring of 2019. Despite the efforts of the guarantors of the Astana process, the situation deteriorated further to reach the alarming point of confrontation by February 2020, when Turkey and Russia were on the brink of direct military conflict. Until then, military diplomacy efforts have ceased to work and several rounds of consultations between Turkey and Russia in February 2020 have fallen short of a result. The military confrontation between the Russian-backed regime forces and the Turkish-backed opposition has turned into a bitter struggle, with heavy sacrifices and material losses. It made a strong reaction from Turkey a must, and on 1 March Ankara launched Operation Spring Shield. « We have sent additional military units to Syria to ensure regional stability, » Erdogan said of the operation, which dealt a blow to the regime`s military capability.
On 4 March, according to the Turkish Ministry of Defence, Turkish forces had neutralized 3,136 elements of the regime. Yet Turkey lost 60 soldiers in The Fighting in February. Determined to avoid a major escalation in Idlib, the presidents of Turkey and Russia held a meeting on 5 March in Moscow, which led to continued cooperation to find a solution to the Syrian crisis. At the end of the meeting, a joint declaration was signed to confirm, among other things, its support for Syria`s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, as well as the fight against terrorism. They declared a ceasefire in Idlib « along the established contact zone » from midnight on 6 March 2020, the establishment of a « safety corridor » 6 kilometres south and 6 kilometres north of the M4 motorway, details of which will be developed in a week, and the start of Turkish-Russian patrols of the M4 section between Trumba and Ain Al Havr from 15 March. as the beginning of a process to amend the agreements on the demilitarized zone of Idlib. « Given all the recent developments, a new status quo in Idlib is inevitable, » Erdogan said at the March 5 meeting. Special PartnersThe relations between Turkey and Russia are more than 500 years old. Over the years, they have experienced the intervention and hostility, rapprochement and friendship that have given the exclusive model of cooperation today, enriched among other things by a trilateral mechanism for a peace settlement in Syria.
While « our approach to certain developments may be different, » Russian President Vladimir Putin said in December 2014, « we clearly share the desire to resolve acute global conflicts. » Recent developments in Idlib are a test of the resilience of relations between Turkey and Russia.