A Twisted Timeline of US-Russian Relations in Syria

The two countries are on opposite sides of the conflict. Except when they’re not.

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the APEC summit in Vietnam in November 2017Mikhail Klimentyev/AFP/Getty

The United States and Russia are on opposite sides of the Syrian conflict. Except when they’re not. While Washington backed anti-government rebels, Moscow rode to the rescue of Bashar al-Assad. But they’ve also worked together to push a peace process and defeat ISIS.

View this timeline as an image

September 2015

Russia: After establishing an air base in Latakia, Syria, Russia launches strikes against “terrorists.”

October 2015

US: President Obama says Russia will end up in “a quagmire” in Syria. The US-led coalition calls on Russia to end strikes on non-ISIS targets.

October 2015

Both: The US and Russia set up a “deconfliction” hotline to prevent encounters between their jets over Syria.

November 2015

Both: The US and Russia reassert their goal of ensuring a UN-led political transition in Syria.

December 2016

Russia: The Syrian government retakes Aleppo with help from Russian planes.

January 2017

Russia: Russia signs a deal to keep bases in Syria for 49 more years. Russia, Iran, and Turkey meet in Astana, Kazakhstan, to open a new peace process. The United States is not a party.

July 2017

Both: Trump and Putin agree to a cease-fire in southwestern Syria. “Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!” Trump tweets.

Summer 2017

Both: The US and Russia set up a new deconfliction hotline to prevent clashes between their ground forces battling ISIS in eastern Syria.

November 2017

Both: Trump and Putin briefly discuss Syria at the APEC forum in Vietnam.

November 2017

US: The State Department says Russia may be moving away from the UN peace process to one that “might be easier for the regime to manipulate.”

February 2018

US: US special forces and their Syrian allies defeat attackers including Russian mercenaries outside Deir Ezzor.

April 2018

US: After a Syrian chemical attack, Trump tweets that Putin and Russia are “responsible for backing Animal Assad.”

April 2018

Russia: Putin condemns US retaliatory airstrikes on Syrian government targets as an “act of aggression.”

June 2018

US: The State Department calls out Russia for violating a cease-fire in southwestern Syria.

October 2018

Russia: Russia’s deputy defense minister accuses the US of using drones to attack its Syrian air base.

September 2018

US: UN Ambassador Nikki Haley calls Russia’s demands for international reconstruction aid to Syria “absurd.”

December 2018

US: Trump unexpectedly announces withdrawal of US troops: “We won.”

December 2018

Russia: Putin praises Trump’s decision to withdraw as “correct.”

December 2018

US: Trump tweets that Russia is actually upset about US withdrawal “because now they will have to fight ISIS…without us.”

March 2019

US: Trump says the United States will recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

March 2019

Russia: Russia condemns Trump’s Golan Heights announcement.


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