World War 3 warning: How Russia is 'using Turkey to divide NATO and threaten US'

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Putin has recently stepped up his nation’s pounding of Syrian city Idlib – the country’s last rebel-held stronghold after a bloody civil war. The targeting of Turkish-backed rebels is a stark change to Russia’s cooperation with President Erdogan’s forces as part of a deal agreed at Sochi earlier this year. However, a global affairs expert suggests that Russia is still fulfilling its two main objectives – supporting President Assad and maintaining Turkish relations – in order to split NATO.

It means that Russia – who are trying to balance their commitment to the two opposing forces – are playing the situation tactically.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Kyle Orton said: “The Russians are trying to restrain the offensive for now, because the fallout from it will sever their relations with Turkey.

“They want to keep stirring instability in NATO and continue pulling Turkey away from the Americans.”

Turkey currently has 12 military outposts in Idlib in order to increase its regional power and prevent Kurdish forces from growing too powerful.

The Sochi summit in February – which included Russia, Iran and Turkey – compelled Turkey to eliminate jihadist forces within the province.

Unable to do this, according to Mr Orton, they created a buffer zone to stop insurgent groups wading into regime-controlled areas.

He said: “Now, the Turks have allowed the rebels to make a move because the Russians are trying to take a slice out of Idlib.

“But since 2016, when the Turks moved into Syria directly and abandoned their efforts to overthrow Assad, Russia have been fostering political relations.

“It’s very helpful for the Russians because it means they can split NATO.”

Turkey has been operating against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – a far left militant organisation which calls for a separate Kurdish state – in and out of the country.

It is linked with the People’s Protection Units (YPG), who make up most of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Mr Orton added: “Turkey is annoyed because the US is supporting the terror organisation that is the PKK, which is actually in control of the SDF.

“The Russians have been playing on that faultline for a while.”

Warning that a full-blown offensive would ruin relations between Moscow and Ankara, however, he noted that Russia may need to pick sides in the end – and risk alienating one of its allies.

Mr Orton added: “So far, the Russians have tried to delay the final offensive in order to keep the ability to mess around the NATO alliance.

“But the Russian’s can’t actually control things on the ground, and at some point, the regime in Iran will make a move.”

Though the city – starved of weapons and resources – does not pose a threat to the Syrian Government, President Assad is keen to remove any sentiment of opposition, according to Mr Orton.

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