In Syria, Russia is weighing its options against Turkey

The military establishment in Russia is determined to contain Turkish ambitions in Syria and put an end to what it sees as excesses being committed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the war-torn country. However, members of Moscow’s diplomatic corps are still hoping that the Turkish president would change course and avoid a potentially dangerous confrontation between the two regional powers in Syria's north. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, it is reliably learnt, is hoping to personally influence Mr Erdogan but finds himself in a position where there is pressure to make a decision quickly.

I was in the Russian capital earlier in the week to attend the Valdai Club conference, the theme of which was “Middle East in a Time of Change: Towards New Stability Architecture”. There, I met figures apprised of the thinking of the Russian civilian and military leadership groups – especially vis-a-vis Turkey and Iran – and got the sense that a military confrontation with Turkey in Syria is inevitable