Diplomats Fear Russia May Use Syrian Aid as Bargaining Chip in Ukraine

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WASHINGTON — Only one route remains open for international convoys bringing food, water and other aid to over one million Syrians besieged by civil war. Now, officials warn, Russia might try to shut it down or use it as a bargaining chip with world powers in another war, about 1,000 miles away in Ukraine.

Diplomats and experts said closing the corridor, at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, would almost certainly force thousands of people to flee Syria. That would only worsen a refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East that is already considered the world’s largest since World War II.

The U.N. Security Council, where Russia wields a powerful veto, will vote in July on whether to keep the aid route open. But the corridor already appears caught up in the fallout from the war in Ukraine and the competing interests of Russia and the United States.

“The war in Ukraine is having wide-ranging implications for Syria — and for the whole region and for the world,” Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi of Jordan said in an interview this month in Washington.

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