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Corker: Russia Using Syrian Refugees as “Weapon of War” to Stoke Instability in Europe

Senator Suggests Russia May Exploit Provisional Ceasefire in Syria to Solidify Military Gains by the Assad Regime

WASHINGTON – During a hearing today with Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, accused Russia of contributing to the flow of refugees from the Syrian conflict in order to stoke instability in Europe.

“I think [Europeans] are concerned about what Russia is doing to destabilize the area using refugees as a weapon of war,” he said regarding Russia’s military support for the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Corker also suggested Russia may exploit a proposed ceasefire in Syria to solidify the Assad regime’s recent military gains for future diplomatic negotiations.

“I think many of us have been asking, ‘what happens if in fact this cease fire doesn’t hold?” said Corker. “I don’t think that Russia believes that anything is going to happen, and I think that’s why they continue to make these gains. At some point, they’ll have all the gains they need and will be willing for a cessation of the conflict.”

The provisional ceasefire supported by the Obama administration is supposed to take effect over the weekend. However, the terms of the agreement could allow Assad and Russia to use the alleged targeting of certain terrorist groups as cover for continuing their ongoing military offensive against opposition forces backed by the United States.