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MOSCOW, September 4 (Itar-Tass) - Russia will not engage in any armed conflicts, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in reply to the question over the situation in Syria.
“Certainly, we do not intend and will not engage in any conflicts,” Putin said in an interview with Channel One and the US-based news agency Associated Press ahead of the G20 Leaders Summit.
“We have our own ideas about what and how we are going to do in the event of conflict development with the use of weapons, or without it. We have our own plans, but it’s still too early to talk about it,” the head of state said.
Putin also expressed his satisfaction with the fact that some countries have decided not to take part in a military operation in Syria (having in mind, first of all, obviously, the decision of the UK’s Parliament). "Frankly, I was very surprised, because I thought that in the Western community is all done according to the principles of a certain uniformity, similar to the decisions taken at the congresses of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union," the president admitted. However, as it turned out, "there are people who value their sovereignty, analyze the situation and have courage to make decisions in the interests of their own countries, defend their point of view." "It's very good, it shows that the world is really strengthening its multipolarity", the Russian leader concluded.
Putin noted that military units of the Russian army are currently not deployed abroad, except for two military bases in the former Soviet republics and the missions of peacekeepers sanctioned by the UN mandates. “This is very good, we are very glad about it,” the Russian President said.
In addition, Vladimir Putin said that Russia is supplying to Syria components on the S-300 contract, but the supply is now suspended. “We have a contract for the delivery of the air defense systems S-300, we have delivered some components for these air defense systems, but the supplies are not complete, we have suspended the supplies,” the Russian leader confirmed. However, “if we witness that some steps are being taken in violation of the effective international regulations, we will think it over how we should act in the future, particularly regarding the supplies of such sensitive weapons in some regions of the world,” Putin noted.
Meanwhile, Putin noted that S-300 are “not state-of-the-art air defense systems.” “Still, I believe that they are a little bit better than Patriot in their parameters, but we already have air defense systems S-400 and air defense systems S-500 are in the making. Certainly, these weapons are very efficient,” the President said.
The Russian President also noted that Russia continues cooperation with Syria in the supplies and maintenance of machinery, because Russia proceeds from an assumption that “we are cooperating with the legitimate government and, meanwhile, do not violate any provisions of international law and any our commitments.” “The United Nations Organization imposed no restrictions on the weapons supplies in Syria,” the president stated. “We regret strongly that the supplies are made to the militants massively and from the very beginning of this armed conflict, though the weapons supplies to a country engaged in the armed conflict are impermissible according to international law,” Putin said in conclusion.
Who can sanction military operation in Syria
Only the UN Security Council can sanction the use of weapons in Syria, according to Vladimir Putin.
He also said that Russia could be convinced in the fact of chemical weapons use in Syria only by solid evidence. “We will be made sure of this (the use of chemical weapons in Syria - Itar-Tass) by a profound and detailed study of the issue and the evidence, which would be obvious and would prove absolutely evidently, who used it (the chemical weapons - Itar-Tass) and which concrete weapons were used,” the president noted. Only after this Russia will be prepared “to take the most decisive and serious actions,” Putin added.
Putin proposed to the United States not to get irritated, take patience and seek for resolution of bilateral problems. “We understand that the U.S. Administration gets irritated over Russia’s position on some issues. But I cannot do anything about it. I believe that actually it would be good not to get irritated, take patience together and seek for solutions,” the Russian President said.
“All people remember erroneous and groundless US arguments, when a military action was unleashed in Iraq,” Putin noted.
The president said the footage showing affected children didn’t answer the question whether chemical weapons were used in Syria, and who exactly used it.
"What concerns the materials, the footage that you just mentioned showing the dead children, and allegations they were killed by this chemical attack, these are terrible shots,” the Russian leader said. “The only question is, who did what and who is to blame.”
"I’m pointing out the facts that if you take a close look at these pictures, there are no parents, no women, no medical staff. Who are these people and what happened there? There is no answer to this question. These pictures themselves are, of course, awful, but they do not prove anyone's guilt. Of course, this is subject to investigation, and it would be good to know who committed these crimes,”he stressed.
Russia adheres to a principled position that the use of mass destruction weapons is a crime, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
“If we have unbiased and accurate information about those who committed these crimes (suspected chemical attacks - Itar-Tass), we will give a proper response,” he said in reply to a question of the U.S. correspondent. “But I assure you that we will take a principled position,” the Russian president added, noting that “the use of mass destruction weapons is a crime.”
Waiting for the inspection results
"We believe that at least we have to wait for the results of the inspection undertaken by the commission of UN experts. But we have no evidence that these are chemicals, it is not known yet if it is a chemical weapon, or just some kind of chemical pollutants applied exactly by the Syrian official government army," Putin said.
"Moreover, I have already talked about this. In our opinion, it seems totally ridiculous to the regular armed forces - who actually attack today in some places the so-called rebels that are surrounded, and they just finishing them off, in fact - that they are in the conditions to start applying the prohibited chemical weapons, knowing well that this may be a reason for them to take penalties, including the use of force. This is ridiculous; it does not fit into any kind of logic first of all."
Putin hopes to have talks with Obama
Putin hopes to have talks with Obama on the sidelines of a G20 summit. “I pin high hopes on a possible meeting with the U.S. counterpart on the sidelines of a G20 summit in St. Petersburg,” Putin said.
“Russia will offer to devote some time to the debates over the Syrian problem at a G20 summit,” the President confirmed. “Certainly, given the situation around Syria is acute and conflict-ridden, and the fact that we still fail to agree on all aspects of this very important problem, it is possible to take advantage of the fact that the leaders of 20 leading world economies will meet in St. Petersburg, and, certainly, they can devote some time to the debates on this issue,” Putin said.
Putin believes that Obama is easy to negotiate with, his position is understandable and it is interesting to work with him. “Our talks are always very constructive, very content-intensive and quite frank. In this regard, the U.S. president is a very good and easy partner to negotiate with, because it is clear that he wants, his position is understandable, he is listening to the position of his partner in talks, his opponent and responds to it. It is interesting for me to work with him,” Putin said.
Moreover, speaking on collaboration issues, Putin expressed hope that absolute security will be ensured at the Sochi Olympics together with partners in the security services in the United States and Europe.
“Russia protects some concrete standards of relations between different countries, but not Snowden,” Putin stated. The President added that he agreed for the arrival of Snowden in Russia under the condition that the latter will not spoil Russian-US relations. According to Putin, Snowden did not offer any information to Russia and Moscow does not have an intention to receive this information.
“Russia does not extradite Snowden to the United States over the absence of a bilateral agreement on mutual extradition of criminals,” Putin noted.
The president did not rule out that the U.S. Administration has the right to ask for extradition of Snowden. “The problem is absolutely not in this domain. The problem is that we do not know whether the U.S Administration is right or not. And the problem is not that we protect Snowden. We do not protect him at all. The problem is that we lack an agreement on mutual extradition of the criminals with the United States. We proposed many times to the U.S. to conclude this agreement and received their refusal,” Putin said with confidence.