Russia has told Turkey that it does not have the right to create a "safe zone" within Syria unless it is sought and received consent from President Bashar al-Assad, which signaled tensions as a three-way summit on Syrian conflict began.  President Vladimir Putin, one of Assad's closest allies, hosted the Black Sea Summit in the Sotshaw on Thursday to discuss the future of Syria with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
All three countries have forces on earth in Syria, where they have coordinated their efforts despite sometimes different priorities and interests.
But a planned withdrawal of the US forces from Syria, announced by President Donald Trump in December, has created new tensions between Moscow and Ankara in particular.
Turkey wants to create what it calls a safe zone in northeast Syria, some of which are now governed by the American forces and for the area near the Turkish border is cleared of the US-backed Kurdish YPG militia.
But the spokeswoman of a Russian Foreign Ministry spoke before the start of the Sochi Summit on Syria. Ankara would need Assad's green light to create a safe zone within the Syrian borders.
The issue of the presence of a military contingent acting under the authority of a third country on the territory of a sovereign country, and in particular Syria, must be settled directly by Damascus, said Maria Zakharova in response to a question about the Turkish security zone plan. "It's our base position."
But this is probably an unpleasant prospect for Erdogan, who has called on Assad to step down after years of civil war that has crushed his country.
The Kremlin on Thursday also emphasized that its patience with Turkey over a joint agreement to enforce a demilitarized zone in the northwest Idlib region was short.
Moscow and Ankara mediated the agreement in September and said they wanted the region to be free of heavy weapons and warriors. The deal helped to avert a government attack on the region, the last major bastion of Assad's opponents.
But Moscow has since complained that the armed groups that used to belong to the Al-Nusra Front are now in control and want military action to drive them out.
Ankara is less concerned as concerned about potential refugee flows from Idlib in the event of a military operation and wants to maintain its influence in the region at its border.
It also does not want the development in Idlib to distract from the plan to create a safe zone in the northeast.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow wanted action on Idlib with reference to "continued presence of terrorist groups".
"… The implementation of the Idlib decision is one of the main components of our Syria stabilization policy to definitely create conditions for things to move into a political solution," Peskov said, who did clear that Putin would press Erdogan on su
Speech in Sochi on Thursday, Erdogan said that Turkey wanted to move in coordination with Russia on a planned safe zone in northern Syria and added that Syria's territorial integrity could not be established as long as the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia is not cleared from the area.
Reuters news agency