SOCHI, May 2. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for a thorough and unbiased investigation into the incident with the use of chemical weapons in Syria’s Khan Shaykhun.
"We resolutely condemn any use of chemical weapons," Putin said at Tuesday’s news conference after his talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"Naturally, those responsible for the death of Syrians [in the chemical weapons incident in Idlib] must be found and punished. But it should be done only after a thorough and unbiased investigation.
Putin said he had discussed the situation in Syria with the German Chancellor and they had agreed that it was necessary to galvanize the peace negotiations through the Astana and Geneva formats:
"We are confident that a solution to the Syrian problem can be found only through United Nations brokered peace talks."
The incident that supposedly involved the use of chemical weapons occurred in Khan Sheykhun, Syria’s Idlib Governorate, on April 4. The Russian Defense Ministry said the Syrian Air Force destroyed a facility where the militants had been producing nerve gasses.
Washington rushed to blame Damascus for supposedly using chemical weapons. The accusations served as a motive to launch a cruise missile strike on the Syrian airbase in Shayrat, Homs Governorate, on April 7. US defense officials alleged that the Syrian jets that had delivered the chemical agent to Khan Sheykhun had taken off from Shayrat.
Russia has been and will be in contact with the United States on the Syrian settlement, Putin said.
"Naturally, it is impossible to find efficient solutions to such problems without such country as the United States. So, we have been and will be in contact with our American partners and I hope we will reach understanding about joint steps on this important and very sensitive matter of the current international politics," he said.
Putin stressed that it is the Syrian people that has the most serious influence on Syrian President Bashar Assad. "Obviously this people is split. We see big problems in Syrian society and our task is to create conditions for consolidation, for cessation of hostilities, for cessation of mutual destruction, for political dialogue of all conflicting forces," Putin said.
The first and foremost thing to be done, according to the Russian leader, is to establish ceasefire, which has been done along with the Turkish and Iranian partners within the Astana process. "We think that this situation - the ceasefire - must be strengthened and this is what our representatives will work on in Astana tomorrow and the day after tomorrow with the parties to the Syrian conflict," he noted, adding that this cooperation will be continued in the Geneva format.