Despite the big understandings among Russia, Turkey and Iran in the Syrian field according to Astana, but each country has a different agenda from the other, and contradictory in some cases, but the final clash hasn't taken place till now due to the intertwining of their interests in the face of many suspended files, especially the Syrian north. The confusion was the main characteristic of the attitudes of the Syrian war sides among each other, due to the intersection and the conflict of the temporary interests, as reaching a permanent strategic alliance has become an almost impossible mission.
After the beginning of the Syria crisis in Spring 2011, the Russian-Turkish relations witnessed concessive crises, as the Turkish plan in leading a new Middle East by using the Muslim Brotherhood group as the spearhead of this project, didn't agree with Russian fancy, because the sectarian project forms danger on the stability of a number of the Muslim-majority countries in the Russian Federation.
Moscow has defended the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad regime with all its military and diplomatic powers in the face of his opponents of the Gulf-backed opposition in the Arabian region, of the Turkish-backed one in the Middle East, and of the U.S. and French-backed opposition at the international level.
The clash between the two sides led to Ankara's downing the Russian Sukhoi in 2015, in which the Russian president described the incident as "stabbing in the back by the terrorists' partners,” where Moscow forced the Turkish president to apologize in the Russian language, after a long obstinacy.
After that, a new era of relations has begun between the two countries, which was related to Ankara's relations with the U.S. inversely, which preferred supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the face of the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS) till it was defeated militarily in Spring 2019.
Astana understandings and after that Sochi were a Russian recipe aiming at securing Damascus, the capital and its surrounding of the strategic cities on the way to preserve the consistency of the Syrian government, then the beginning of the policy of grabbling the areas under the control of the Syrian opposition which had grabbled, in turn, with the support of the Turkish forces the areas of the Autonomous Administration, especially Afrin and the area between Sere-Kaniye (Ras al-Ain) and Tal Abyad (Gre Spi).
Moscow tries to make a balance between the Turkish goal in eliminating the project of the Autonomous Administration in northeastern Syria and Damascus ambition in controlling the whole Syrian territories with preserving a certain limit of the Iranian influence on the governmental decision, in light of the need of some loyal forces to Tehran in order to fight along with the Syrian army in its battles against Ankara-backed groups.
Moscow held the keys of the Syrian crisis, with the help of the distancing of the U.S. in the full involvement in the Syrian file because of the absence of the strategic importance of Syria in the American balance.
Moscow has become influential in the whole of the Syrian geography to varying degrees, and it deals with all the controlling forces on the ground according to the carrot-and-stick policy, aiming at involving them in settlements with the Syrian government.
It also attaches an utmost importance to the diplomatic solutions, especially with the Autonomous Administration in northeastern Syria, in which the Russian forces are deployed in a number of areas, and it has established a military base in the city of Qamishli, and the solution of the file of this region has become politically on the Russian research table, as a number of officials have expressed this, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov were in the forefront. The Russian political and military leaders meet with several Kurdish political forces to find out their views on how to resolve the Kurdish issue in Syria.
Moscow is trying to pressure the Autonomous Administration and the SDF to break its ties with the U.S. and not to bet on a sustainable stay of American forces in Syria, thus working with Moscow to find a ground for negotiations with the Syrian government on the basis of observing the privacy of the Kurdish people in Syria and an agreed decentralization achievement between the two sides, and also taking into account Damascus fears of any separatist tendencies of the Kurds in Syria.
The Russian-Turkish relationship wasn't built on a strategic alliance. Despite all the political and military understandings between the two sides during the past four years, but this doesn't negate the fact that Ankara is a member of NATO, which is hostile to Russia, and therefore the continuation of the relationship with Moscow means a wide rift in its relationship with its NATO allies, which Ankara cannot bear the consequences of, and it is ultimately compelled to return to NATO.
Likewise, the Turkish government's relations with the extremist Syrian armed groups won't help in achieving Moscow's goal in reaching a political stability, as Moscow cannot rely on Ankara to pressure on these groups, which will sooner or later lead to a military confrontation with it, and Idlib was recently the first test of this matter, as the recent military campaign by the Syrian government forces on the areas controlled by the Turkish-backed armed groups in Idlib countryside put pressure on the Turkish side, which called to stop these attacks, as one of the three guarantors of Astana military track, but it didn't do, and therefore this affected its relationship with these groups and with the incubator, especially that three Turkish observation points are now within the Syrian army's control areas, in addition to the killing of 6 Turkish soldiers at the hands of the Syrian army, and the Russian resolve in dealing with Ankara in its attempt to escalate against these developments, as well as the U.S. support for any action that could be taken by the Turkish government to respond to the Syrian army.
Perhaps the SDF is the preferred military force for Moscow to fight these groups alongside the Syrian army, especially that a number of the areas under the control of the these groups was part of the Autonomous Administration, such as Afrin, Sere-Kaniye (Ras al-Ain) and Tal Abyad (Gre Spi), as this increases the chances of the hypothesis, and this will contribute in pushing the political process between the Autonomous Administration and the Syrian government to reach a satisfied political solution for both sides.