Presumably the Russians can keep them out of opposition hands as well, including the jhadists, and won't be inclined to share them with Hezbullah either. This would also relieve the West of the excuse of intervening after the victory in the name of protecting Syria's chemical weapons.
Of course the Russians will probably use their control to bargain with the opposition but that bridge can be crossed latter.
Generally a good development all round, I would say.
I wonder if the White House had some "heads up" from the Russians and that's why they said that they didn't consider recent movements of Syria's chemical weapons a violation of Obama's red-line.
More below the fold and even more later!!!
BREAKING: Lavrov says Assad not welcomed in Russia! see below
From CNN we have this report:
The Israeli based and intel savy DEBKAfile put it more bluntly:
Russia: Syria consolidates its chemical weapons
By CNN Staff
December 22, 2012 -- Updated 1708 GMT (0108 HKT)
Syria has consolidated its chemical weapons into one of two locations from its usual places scattered across the country, Russia's foreign minister said Saturday.
The move comes as unrest in the country extends to nearly two years, with rebels making gains recently.
"As of right now... the [Syrian] government is doing all it can to safeguard those weapons," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, according to Russia's RIA Novosti news agency.
"We are following all leads concerning chemical weapons," the foreign minister said, adding that the consolidation was a measure to assuage fears that such weapons could end up in "the wrong hands," the agency reported. More...
EAWorldView has this further report:
Russian forces take Syrian chemical, biological weapons under control
December 22, 2012, 2:48 PM (GMT+02:00)
The chemical warfare threat looming over Syria’s civil war and its neighbors has taken an epic turn with the announcement by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Saturday, Dec. 22, that “the Syrian government has “consolidated its chemical weapons in one or two locations amid a rebel onslaught and they are under control for the time being.”
He added that Russia, “which has military advisers training Syria’s military, has kept close watch over its chemical arsenal.”
debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report: The Russian foreign minister’s statement was a message to Washington that the transfer of Syria’s weapons of mass destruction to one or two protected sites was under Russian control. This had removed the danger of them falling into the hands of the al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra ,which had come ominously close Friday, Dec. 21, when the Islamists spearheaded a Syrian rebel assault for the capture of the al-Safira military complex and Bashar Assad’s chemical and biological stores.
Lavrov did not go into detail about how this arsenal was removed and to which locations. But his reference to “Russian military advisers training Syria’s military” clearly indicated that Russian forces were directly involved in removing the WMD out of the reach of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists.
His assertion that they were “under control” indicated that Russia was also involved in safeguarding them.
debkafile’s Moscow sources add: Russia’s military intervention in the Syrian civil war achieved four objectives:
1. The prevention of Western or Israel military action for seizing control of Syria’s chemical and biological weapons arsenals;
2. The prevention of Western military intervention in the civil war behind the forces dedicated to the removal of Bashar Assad. The Russian military is now engaged in the dual mission of guarding his WMD arsenal and his regime;
3. The Russian military presence in Syria delivers a heavy swipe to the rebels;
4. Russia’s intervention and military presence have laid the groundwork for Moscow and Washington to work out an accord that will bring Syria’s civil war to an end. More...
1200 GMT: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has pulled back from comments by President Vladimir Putin distancing Moscow from the Syrian regime, declaring: "Listen, no one is going to win this war. Assad is not going anywhere, no matter what anyone says, be it China or Russia."Form the Hurriyet Daily News we have this report:
Lavrov repeated that Russia had rejected requests from countries in the region to pressure Assad to go or offer him safe haven, and said his exit might lead to an upsurge in fighting:Some regional powers suggested that we tell Assad we were ready to accommodate him. And we replied: "Why do we have to do it? If you have these plans, go to him yourselves directly."On Thursday Putin said in a press conference, "[We are] advocating the solution which would prevent the collapse of the region and the continuous civil war....not retaining al-Assad and his regime at any price."
Lavrov also said the regime's chemical weapons had been concentrated in one or two areas and were "under control" for the time being. He claimed the biggest threat was that the weapons could fall into the hands of militants.
The NY Times has this take on Lavrov's talk:
Russia says it won’t host Assad but others welcome
December 22 2012, 10:58:31 pst
Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow would welcome any country’s offer of a safe haven to Syrian President Bashar Assad, but underlined that Moscow itself has no intention of giving him shelter if he steps down, AP has reported.
Russia has used its veto right at the U.N. Security Council to protect its old ally from international sanctions, but it has increasingly sought to distance itself from Assad.
Lavrov told reporters late Friday that countries in the region he wouldn’t name publicly had asked Russia to convey their offer of a safe passage to Assad. He said that Russia responded by telling them to go directly to Assad.
"If there is anyone willing to provide him guarantees, they are welcome!" Lavrov told reporters on board a plane returning from Brussels where he attended a Russia-EU summit. "We would be the first to cross ourselves and say: "Thank God, the carnage is over! If it indeed ends the carnage, which is far from certain."
He also said the Syrian government has pulled its chemical weapons together to one or two locations from several arsenals across the country to keep them safe amid the rebel onslaught.
"According to the information we have, as well as the data of the U.S. and European special services, the government is doing everything to secure it," he said. "The Syrian government has concentrated the stockpiles in one or two centers, unlike the past when they were scattered across the country."
U.S. intelligence says the regime may be readying chemical weapons and could be desperate enough to use them. Both Israel and the U.S. have also expressed concerns they could fall into militant hands if the regime crumbles.
Lavrov added that U.N. peace envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, would visit Moscow for talks before the year’s end.
Russia says West has 'no appetite' for Syria intervention
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday he believed Western powers had no desire to intervene in the Syrian conflict, AFP reported.
"I have a feeling that no one has any appetite for external intervention," Lavrov told journalists travelling with him on a flight to Moscow from an EU-Russia summit in Brussels, quoted by the ITAR-TASS news agency.
"I even have the feeling that they are praying for Russia and China to continue blocking permission for external intervention. Because if there is such a decision, they will have to act, and no one is ready to act," he said. More...
Here are my related diaries on Syria:
Russia Says It Won’t Play Role in Ousting Assad
By ELLEN BARRY and KAREEM FAHIM
Published: December 22, 2012
MOSCOW — The foreign minister of Russia, which is among Syria’s most reliable allies, said Saturday that several countries were offering asylum to President Bashar al-Assad to get him to leave Syria, but that Moscow would not mediate on their behalf, according to Russian news services.
“Several countries in the region have turned to us and suggested ‘Tell Assad we are ready to fix him up,’ ” the foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, told reporters who accompanied him on a flight home from the Russia-European Union summit meeting in Brussels, in comments carried by the Interfax and RIA-Novosti news agencies. “And we answered ‘What do we have to do with it? If you have such plans, approach him directly.’ ” More...
Syria: Assad Regime enters the Deathwatch Phase
SecState[?] John Kerry and his 'dear friend' Bashar Assad
A Libyan rebel speaks out on Jihadists in Syria
Does what Obama said at Newtown apply to Syria?
BREAKING: Heavy fighting in Damascus as coup attempt reported in progress
Assad's jets bomb Palestinian refugee camp
Jabhat al-Nusra is a Threat to the Syrian Revolution
AP weighs in on Obama's Green Light for Assad's slaughter in Syria
Syrian opposition says "Thanks but No Thanks!" to foreign intervention
BREAKING: Assad firing Scud missiles at Syria
Is Assad using white phosphorus in Syria?
BREAKING: Obama recognizes opposition in Syria
Speaking for the murderous regime in Syria
State of the war in Syria: Most of Damascus now in FSA hands!
Syria: Obama's moves Assad's "red line" back as SOHR reports 42,000 dead!
UPDATED: Syria goes dark as "cleansing" begins in Damascus
BREAKING: Assad's Troops Wipe Out a Playground Full of Children in #Syria
BREAKING: Russia denies Syrian army on brink of collapse
BREAKING in Syria: Explosion rocks Damascus as people use "Truce Day" to protest regime
We condemn Israel. So why the silence on Syria?
Norodom Sihanouk at his finest & more on Syria
Meet a Syrian who doesn't think both sides are equally bad and is betting her life on it!
Two statements about Syria
Syria Today: New videos from the revolutionary war
Syrian Defector: Assad behind "terrorist" bombs
How Assad fights "terrorism" in Syria
REVISITED: FSA says it killed Russian General in Syria
Turkey attacks Syria
Truth Out: How Assad helped France kill Qaddafi
Panetta: Unilateral U.S. Military Intervention in Syria Would Be a Serious Mistake
BREAKING: 305 Syrians slaughtered in bloodiest day yet
Syria: Secret source of rebel arms revealed
BREAKING: Amnesty on Syria - Assad Regime guilty on indiscriminate slaughter
Syrian Revolution Digest shows "disgusting" photos!
Syria: The Killing Field the World is Learning to Live With
Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad
LIVE VIDEO: “World Silence is Killing Syria” Rally in #DC
Free #Syria responds to Robert Fisk
UPDATED: #Assad: "#Syria doesn't need a green light!"
Obama opposes French support for #Assad's opposition in #Syria
BREAKING: Amnesty site hacked, Assad propaganda posted
BREAKING: 630 Slaughtered in new massacre in Syria
Special message from Syrian children to Obama
Assad's Redline and Obama's Greenlight!
General Meade at Gettysburg
Tell US gov't to stop endangering Syrian activists
UPDATED: Obama "green lights" #Assad's slaughter in Syria
Syria: Turning Battlegrounds into Playgrounds
BREAKING: Bashar al-Assad is alive as deaths in Syria reach 25,000
The Left and the Arab Spring
Iran increasing its intervention in Syria
Syria: Images from the Battle of Aleppo
Fears grow of WMD attack in Syria
UPDATED: FSA says it killed Russian General in Syria
BREAKING: Syria releases new images of Bashar al- Assad | Are they fakes?
NOT BREAKING NEWS: Just another massacre in Syria
UPDATED: Syrian prime minister defects
Syria: FSA says Iranian pilgrims really Republican Guard
Syria: Aleppo under Siege!
BREAKING: UN votes to condemn Assad Regime as Reuters posts false story on Syria
BREAKING: Kofi Annan resigns as envoy to Syria
Syria: Bashar al-Assad not heard from on Armed Forces Day!
BREAKING: Senior Syrian diplomat to Armenia defects
BREAKING: Big Explosion hits #Damascus #Syria
UPDATED: Syria's Charge D'Affaires Quits London Post
BREAKING: Ground assault on Aleppo begins!
BREAKING: Protests across Syria in spite of Assad regime violence
ALEPPO: Step outside the Matrix and witness the Horror
UPDATED: US fears massacre in #Aleppo, #Syria
BREAKING: Reports of clashes between Jordan Army & Assad's Syrian army
BRAKING: Obama stops Putin from re-arming Assad in Syria
Syria: Foreign meddling increases as crisis builds
BREAKING: Aleppo, Syria bombed with fighter jets
BREAKING: Syria issues a correction, it has no WMD to use
BREAKING: Arab League asks Assad to step down!
Bashar al-Assad: New images released as slaughter continues in Syria
no blood for oil
BREAKING: Activists report toxic gas attack in Deir ez-Zor, Syria
Glenn Greenwald sees Islamist Terrorism as main issue in Syria
Will Syria's Assad make a chemical attack in Damascus on Saturday?
BREAKING: I know where Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is!
BREAKING: Massive Fire near #Assad's Presidential Palace in #Damascus, #Syria
BREAKING: Is Syria's Bashar al-Assad dead or dying?
BREAKING: Damascus explosion kills Defense Minister, other key figures
The battle for Damascus is coming
BREAKING: General Strike in Damascus
BREAKING: Intense fighting reported in Damascus now!
BREAKING: Syrian defector spills beans as important new defection reported.
Does Syria's Assad have something on Kofi Annan?
Tremseh Massacre in Syria: What we know
BREAKING: ~227 reported massacred by Assad's forces in Tremseh, Syria today!
Syria: Is Assad regime on the verge of collapse?
BREAKING: Russian Warships reported in Syria
BREAKING: #Russia changing on #Assad but not as fast as conditions in #Syria
UN Observers say violence in Syria is ‘Unprecedented’
BREAKING: Defection of major Assad insider reported in Syria
BREAKING: WikiLeaks releases 2.4 million #Syria emails
When did "Never Again" become "Whenever?" | #Douma
BREAKING: Incredible mass rally in Aleppo, Syria today!
BREAKING: HRW releases torture report on Syria
BREAKING: Syrian General defects with 293 to Turkey
BREAKING: Items not in the MSM on Syria
My response to Phyllis Bennis: Where is the non-violent opposition in Syria?
BREAKING: Syrian Air Force attacks Douma, 10m from Damascus, thousands flee
BREAKING: As Syria Burns, UN Blows More Smoke
BREAKING: Kofi Annan to propose Syrian unity gov't sans Assad!
BREAKING: Douma, Syria under massive attack, another massacre feared
BREAKING: Another mass defection from Syrian army
BREAKING: #NATO says No War in #Syria shoot down of #Turkey jet
NATO meetup tomorrow as more defect from Syria
BREAKING: Turkey calls for NATO consult on downing of jet by Syria
BREAKING: Senior Syrian Officers Defect
UPDATED: Russia reported to be preparing to evacuate from Syria
BREAKING: Syria fighter pilot defects
BREAKING: Britain stops Russian ship carrying attack helicopters for Syria
BREAKING: Russian troops headed to Syria
Qaddafi forces Strike Back in Libya
BREAKING: UN suspends mission in Syria
Libya & Syria - two videos - no comment
BREAKING: Russia denies supplying Syria with NEW attack helicopters
Syrian people rise up against the massacre
Another "Houla style" massacre in Syria
Fake Houla Massacre Photo: Was the BBC set up?
Idlib, Syria protest today on anniversary of Kent State killings
BREAKING: Massive protests in Syria following Friday pray
Syria is bleeding
Syria: Ceasefire faltering as mass protests breakout