Putin: Russia Not Bending on Support for Syria

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Sept. 6, 2013, 10:02 a.m.

Rus­si­an Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin on Fri­day said he would not curb as­sist­ance to his na­tion’s Dam­as­cus ally if Syr­ia is tar­geted by in­ter­na­tion­al mil­it­ary ac­tion over an Au­gust in­cid­ent that West­ern powers be­lieve to have been a sar­in nerve gas strike car­ried out by re­gime forces, Re­u­ters re­por­ted.

Putin said he had con­ferred on Fri­day with Pres­id­ent Obama dur­ing the Group of 20 na­tions’ sum­mit in St. Peters­burg, but in­dic­ated they had not budged in their re­spect­ive po­s­i­tions on the civil war-torn Middle East­ern coun­try, the wire ser­vice re­por­ted sep­ar­ately.

“The so-called chem­ic­al weapons use … was a pro­voca­tion from the side of the in­sur­gents, who are count­ing on out­side help from the coun­tries that have sup­por­ted them from the start,” Putin said in com­ments re­por­ted on Fri­day by the Wall Street Journ­al.

The United King­dom on Thursday claimed to have ob­tained new forensic in­dic­a­tions of a sar­in nerve gas strike near Dam­as­cus two weeks ago, the Lon­don Guard­i­an re­por­ted.

Obama on Fri­day avoided say­ing wheth­er he might or­der an at­tack on Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment tar­gets if he fails to re­ceive a re­ques­ted bless­ing for the move from Con­gress, ac­cord­ing to the Re­u­ters.

The De­fense De­part­ment has re­ceived or­ders from Obama to identi­fy ad­di­tion­al po­ten­tial As­sad re­gime tar­gets with an eye to re­du­cing the gov­ern­ment’s abil­ity to carry out chem­ic­al strikes, the New York Times re­por­ted on Thursday. In­siders said pos­sible mil­it­ary ac­tion could fo­cus on armed forces as well as the headquar­ters fa­cil­ity over­see­ing the gov­ern­ment’s chem­ic­al arms. The chem­ic­al fir­ing units and launch vehicles also could be tar­geted. No strikes would be dir­ec­ted at the chem­ic­al stock­piles them­selves, they said.

As­sad’s gov­ern­ment has un­der­taken “an es­cal­a­tion … of chem­ic­al weapons use” in the Syr­i­an civil war now in its third year, the Guard­i­an quoted Obama as say­ing on Fri­day. Earli­er, Brit­ish Prime Min­is­ter Dav­id Camer­on said “we know that there have been at least 14 pre­vi­ous chem­ic­al weapons at­tacks.”

Camer­on on Thursday said his coun­try had in­de­pend­ently as­sessed a chem­ic­al strike to have taken place based on fab­ric and earth traces re­portedly smuggled from the site of the al­leged strike, ac­cord­ing to the news­pa­per. He said the United King­dom re­mains “con­fid­ent” that As­sad’s re­gime was be­hind the in­cid­ent al­leged by the United States to have killed more than 1,400 people out­side the Syr­i­an cap­it­al.

Rus­sia curtly brushed off the Brit­ish find­ings, which echoed con­clu­sions from a hu­man-tis­sue ana­lys­is made pub­lic by the United States earli­er this week. A Putin spokes­man re­portedly called the United King­dom “a small is­land no one listens to,” though he later denied mak­ing the re­mark.

France headed a Thursday push for G-20 sum­mit par­ti­cipants to form­ally de­nounce any use of chem­ic­al arms, ac­cord­ing to the Guard­i­an. However, Camer­on said the gov­ern­ments “nev­er” had a chance of agree­ing on a state­ment per­tain­ing to Syr­ia, the news­pa­per re­por­ted.

Wash­ing­ton’s en­voy to the United Na­tions on Thursday ac­cused Mo­scow of hold­ing the U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil “host­age” by re­peatedly block­ing meas­ures re­lated to chem­ic­al-weapon al­leg­a­tions com­ing out of Syr­ia.

“The Se­cur­ity Coun­cil the world needs to deal with this crisis is not the Se­cur­ity Coun­cil we have,” Am­bas­sad­or Sam­antha Power said in com­ments to re­port­ers.

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