Putin: Supporting Syrian regime only way to end war
Russia's President Vladimir Putin said the only way to end the war in Syria is to support its existing government in the fight against terrorism, in remarks released Thursday.
In an interview with CBS News “60 Minutes,” the Russia leader repeated his view that only the Syrian people can decide if and when to replace President Bashar al-Assad.
Next week Putin is to meet US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, but his latest comments only underline the gulf between the two leaders.
Washington insists that Assad’s brutal treatment of his own people is the root cause of the Syrian conflict and allowed the extremist Islamic State group to emerge from the chaos.
Moscow counters that the jihadist threat evolved from the bungled US occupation of Iraq and NATO’s air campaign to help Libyan rebels oust another strongman, Moamer Kadhafi.
Russia has deployed a force equipped with attack jets, helicopters and armored vehicles to a Syrian airbase.
CBS interviewer Charlie Rose suggested that this Russian military intervention was designed to “rescue” Assad, and Putin replied: “Well, you’re right.”
“And it’s my deep belief that any actions to the contrary — in order to destroy the legitimate government — will create a situation which you can witness now in the other countries of the region or in other regions, for instance in Libya, where all the state institutions are disintegrated,” he said.
“We see a similar situation in Iraq,” he added.
“And there is no other solution to the Syrian crisis than strengthening the effective government structures and rendering them help in fighting terrorism, but at the same time urging them to engage in positive dialogue with the rational opposition and conduct reform.”
The full interview will be aired on Sunday.