LONDON: Russia has invited Syrian President Bashar Assad to visit Russia, including Crimea, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, according to Interfax.
“The head of the Republic of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, recently visited Damascus on the invitation of President Assad.
He naturally conveyed, in line with normal diplomatic practices, an invitation to President Assad from the Russian leadership to visit the Russian Federation, including Crimea,” Lavrov said in an interview with the Euronews television channel.
Russian news agencies reported on Tuesday that Assad has tentative plans to visit Crimea in April 2019 and is in talks about starting regular passenger flights between Syria and the Black Sea peninsula,
Crimea has been under Western sanctions since it was annexed from Ukraine by Russia in 2014.
Russia is a key ally of Assad in Syria’s seven-year long conflict and the leaders of two other Russia-backed breakaway regions, Georgia’s South Ossetia and Abkhazia, also visited Damascus this year.