SOCHI, September 16. /TASS/. Russia has said from the very beginning of the Syrian crisis that only the Syrian people themselves can determine their future, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday. He commented on Finland’s former President Martti Ahtisaari’s statement in an interview with The Guardian that Moscow allegedly offered in 2012 a plan envisaging Bashar Assad’s resignation from the post of Syrian president.
"This can be very easily checked by date - from the very beginning of the Syrian crisis Russia has repeated at various levels that only the Syrian people and only by means of democratic procedures can determine their future," said the Kremlin spokesman.
"I can only confirm once again that Russia is not engaged in regimes’ change, and Russia has never practiced offering graceful or disgraceful stepping down scenarios," Peskov said.
At a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, commenting on the rampage of terrorism and extremism in Syria, that "elementary common sense and responsibility for global and regional security require concerted efforts of the international community against this threat." "We should put geopolitical ambitions aside and abandon the so-called double standards and the policy of using either directly or indirectly certain terrorist groups to achieve own opportunist goals, including the change of governments and regimes undesirable to someone," the Russian leader said. According to him, "If Russia had not supported Syria, the situation in the country would have been worse than in Libya and the refugees flow would have been even greater." "But today, as I’ve already said, it is essential to pool efforts by the Syrian government, the Kurdish militias, the moderate opposition and other countries in the region in the struggle against the treat to the very statehood of Syria and against terrorism," Putin said.
On Tuesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a telephone conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that Russia’s support to Syrian President Bashar Assad was fraught with dragging out of the internal armed conflict in Syria. Kerry also said that the United States would welcome Russia’s constructive role in the efforts aimed against the Islamic State terrorist group. According to Kerry, in general, there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict. He said that the situation could be settled only by a political transition from Assad to a new government in Damascus.