Putin specifies strong conditions for support of any Syrian intervention

Russian president says he ‘did not exclude’ supporting a UN resolution authorising military action against Syria

Russian president Vladimir Putin during a meeting with the presidential council for civil society and human rights at the Kremlin in Moscow yesterday. Putin warned that an attack on Syria without authorisation from the United Nations Security Council would violate international law. Photograph: Maxim Shipenkov via The New York Times

Russian president Vladimir Putin during a meeting with the presidential council for civil society and human rights at the Kremlin in Moscow yesterday. Putin warned that an attack on Syria without authorisation from the United Nations Security Council would violate international law. Photograph: Maxim Shipenkov via The New York Times

 



Although he made some conciliatory statements in his interview with Channel One on Russian television and the Associated Press news agency on the eve of the G20 summit in St Petersburg, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin made no concessions on his basic policy on Syria.

On the one hand, he announced he “did not exclude” supporting a UN resolution authorising a military action against Syria but, on the other, he laid down very stringent conditions for such support.

Mr Putin also made it clear that although some elements of Russian S-300 missile defence systems had been delivered to the al-Assad government, components vital to their operation had not been sent and deliveries of these items had been suspended.


Power of veto
Speaking at the presidential country residence at Novo Ogaryovo outside Moscow, he insisted once again he could not support any military strike unless it was authorised by the United Nations security council at which Russia can exercise its veto.

The conditions laid down for Russia’s support were specific.

There should, he said, be a profound scientific investigation that would uncover evidence that would be clear and would prove beyond doubt who carried out the attack and what means were used.

“If there are data that the chemical weapons have been used, and used specifically by the regular army, this evidence should be submitted to the UN security council and it ought to be convincing.

“It shouldn’t be based on some rumours and information obtained by special services through some kind of eavesdropping, some conversations and things like that.”


‘Pretext’ for action
Mr Putin noted that, even in the US, “there are experts who believe that the evidence presented by the administration doesn’t look convincing, and they don’t exclude the possibility that the opposition conducted a premeditated provocative action trying to give their sponsors a pretext for military intervention”.

Mr Putin is expected to meet US president Barack Obama over the Syrian crisis on the sidelines of the summit at the Konstantinovsky Palace in the Strelna area of St Petersburg.

The palace was the birthplace of Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich Romanov, the bisexual grandson of Tsar Nicholas I.

This adds a certain irony in a country where Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender groups are protesting against a law banning the propaganda to under 18s of “non-traditional sexual activity”.