Russia, US partner to fight ISIS? Possible, not likely, experts say

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When it comes to defeating ISIS, the U.S. may have a very unlikely counterpart: Russia. But, even if Russian and U.S. interests align, that doesn't make us allies, one expert told CNBC.

"If we are, to any extent, allied with Russia, it's going to be very temporary," Burdin Hickok, former U.S. diplomat, and capital markets professional told CNBC.

Russia and the U.S. had been at odds on the issue of the Syrian Civil war, with Russia supporting President Bashar Assad, and the U.S. supporting rebels. But now, ISIS has control of a key area where Russia had planned a critical oil pipeline.

As a result, the U.S. and Russia are both now looking to shift the balance of power in Syria away from ISIS.

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Indeed, following deadly terror attacks in Paris last week, French President Francois Hollande told French Parliament he had requested meetings with Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, the Associated Press reported. Hollande said he wanted the talks "to unify our strength and achieve a result that has been too long in coming." Hollande called for "a union of all who can fight this terrorist army in a single coalition."

But, although Russia and the U.S. now both want ISIS out of the area, old allegiances persist, Hikok said.

"I would not say we are aligned," Hickok said. "In fact, I think it's a mistake to say we could be aligned with Russia."

Despite recent attacks, it will be hard to turn the tides in the Russia-U.S. relationship regarding Syria because of differing strategies, according to Alex Kliment of the Eurasia Group. Russia believes that it must first buttress the power of Assad to defeat ISIS. The U.S., on the other hand, wants to oust Assad to stymie ISIS's recruitment pull.

"I think what all sides are trying to focus on ... is to really hammer out some kind of framework — political settlement — for the Syrian civil war, in so far as it's between Bashar al-Assad and the opposition," Kliment said. "But I think all sides will be kicking the ISIS question down the road."

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

President Barack Obama chats with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 leaders summit in Antalya, Turkey, on Nov. 16, 2015.
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