Putin hints Russia may back Syria strike

President Vladimir Putin said he has not ruled out supporting a military operation in Syria if provided with evidence proving government forces used chemical weapons.

“I haven’t excluded it,” Putin said when asked about the possibility of supporting UN-led military intervention in the Middle Eastern country if convinced that Syrian President Bashar Assad used poisonous gas against his own people.

Putin was speaking late Tuesday in an interview with Channel One state television and The Associated Press before the G20 summit in St. Petersburg.

But he stressed that only the United Nation Security Council had the legal mandate to authorize the use of force against a sovereign country, saying that any other military action in Syria “could only be called aggression.”

Putin also said U.S. evidence that Syrian government forces had used sarin gas in late August was inconclusive. He repeated his previous claim that any evidence suggesting the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria should be submitted to the UN for further investigation.

When asked if he had seen videos of a chemical attack’s victims, Putin called the images “horrible” but said that the videos could be from al-Qaida-linked rebels and did not prove who carried out the attack.

In addition to Syria, the interview covered a wide range of topics, including Putin’s relationship with U.S. President Barack Obama, U.S. Intelligence leaker Edward Snowden and Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law.

By The Moscow Times


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