Russia not aiming at keeping Assad in power in Syria at any cost

Russia is not trying to keep Syrian President Bashar Assad in power at any cost, but opposes a forced regime change, Russia’s upper house speaker Valentina Matvienko said Sunday, following meetings with Saudi officials.

“We have presented our position, that we are not aiming at keeping Assad at any cost. We are against forced regime change from abroad. These are very dangerous precedents,” Matvienko said, answering the question, concerning Moscow’s position on Assad’s fate.

Syria has been been in a state of civil war since 2011 with government forces fighting against Syrian opposition groups aiming to overthrow President Bashar Assad, and numerous Islamist groups such as the Islamic State (IS).

The US-led coalition, which includes Saudi Arabia, has been supporting so-called “moderate” opposition forces in Syria. In 2015, Russia began a counter-terror campaign in Syria, following a request from Assad.