Putin Warns US against One-Sided Syria Action
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, warned the US against taking one-sided action in Syria, but also said that Russia "doesn't exclude" the possibility of supporting a UN resolution authorizing military strikes.
He says that such an endorsement would require "convincing" evidence that President Bashar al-Assad's government used chemical weapons against citizens.
He also says the currently available evidence does not fulfil this criteria.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Associated Press news agency and Russia's state Channel 1 television, Putin said it would be "absolutely absurd" for Assad's forces to have used chemical weapons at a time when they were in the ascendency in the conflict.
"From our viewpoint, it seems absolutely absurd that the armed forces, the regular armed forces, which are on the offensive today and in some areas have encircled the so-called rebels and are finishing them off, that in these conditions they would start using forbidden chemical weapons while realising quite well that it could serve as a pretext for applying sanctions against them, including the use of force," Putin said in the interview, released on Wednesday.
"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,'' added Putin.
"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."
He also cited experts who believed that the current evidence "doesn't look convincing", and raised the possibility that the armed opposition had "conducted a premeditated provocative action trying to give their sponsors a pretext for military intervention".
Putin compared the evidence presented by the US administration so far to false data used by that country to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
"All these arguments turned out to be untenable, but they were used to launch a military action, which many in the US called a mistake. Did we forget about that?" he said.
In the interview, Putin did not "exclude" the possibility of the use of force by foreign countries against Syria, if there was enough evidence provided to the UN and that body sanctioned such an action.
He strongly cautioned the US against launching military action without UN approval, however, saying it would represent an aggression.