MOSCOW, February 15. /TASS/. The departure of Bashar Assad from the post of the Syrian president will lead to the country’s disintegration at the current moment, which is admitted even by the United States, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said on Monday.
"Bashar Assad is the legitimate president. Americans requested us more than once: let us decide together who will rule Syria. We never engaged in such things. This is what Syrians must decide themselves," Gatilov said in an interview with German magazine Spiegel.
According to the Russian deputy foreign minister, the elections held in 2014 didn’t stop the conflict because the terrorist threat had increased.
"No matter how odious Bashar Assad may be, a considerable part of the Syrian society is consolidated around him after all," the Russian diplomat said.
"Many support him. Of course, he also fears about his fate and the fate of his close circle. If he had stepped down right now, Syria would have finally disintegrated as a state. Even Americans have a similar view on this today," he added.
"They [the United States] believe that it is not time now to decide the fate of Bashar Assad," the Russian deputy foreign minister said.
"Today it is necessary to struggle against terror. The military situation locally has changed. With Russia’s support, the Syrian army has advanced considerably. It has liberated dozens of populated settlements," he said.
The Russian deputy foreign minister called as short-sighted the policy of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other countries supporting Assad’s opponents.
"It is necessary to find a political agreement," he said.
‘We must keep Syria as a sovereign state. It is necessary to prevent it from being fragmented," he said.
"Previously, all groups of the population co-existed splendidly in Syria. If the country disintegrates, we’ll see something similar to the situation in Libya where all the attempts of reconciliation remain futile," Gatilov said.
At the same time, the Russian deputy foreign minister said the Syrian government had committed a lot of mistakes, after which forces from outside intervened.
"Bashar Assad could have prevented the escalation, if he had timely carried out democratic reforms," the diplomat said.
"However, in the absence of that, the conflict continued escalating. This drew the attention of terrorist groups and created a breeding ground for them," the Russian deputy foreign minister said.