Finnish diplomat and Nobel laureate Martti Ahtisaari suggested that there was a moment early on during Syria’s hideous war when a political solution could have been thrashed out. Ahtisaari claims that in February 2012, when the conflict had claimed under 10,000 lives, Russia’s envoy to the United Nations outlined a peace plan that could have led to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s exit from power.
Ahtisaari detailed the discussions in an interview with the Guardian newspaper: Vitaly Churkin, the Russian envoy, “said three things,” according to Ahtisaari. “One — we should not give arms to the opposition. Two — we should get a dialogue going between the opposition and Assad straight away. Three — we should find an elegant way for Assad to step aside.”