Moscow, SANA – Russian President Vladimir Putin said Syria is a sovereign country and President Bashar al-Assad is elected by the Syrians and they alone can determine their future.
In an interview given to the Russian Interfax and the Turkish Anadolu news agencies on Friday, President Putin said that Russia doesn’t have the right to discuss with President al-Assad the issue of stepping down because he is elected by the Syrian people, asserting that such a request wouldn’t be a moral act and that only those who think that they’re special allow themselves to take such impolite acts to impose their will on others.
He stressed that the main purpose of the Russian operations in Syria is to fight terrorism, and that it’s linked to the Syrian Army’s operations on the ground, adding that Russia has ideas about how external forces can help Syria to defeat terrorists and emerge from the crisis, and Russian diplomacy is actively working on those ideas.
Regarding the political process in Syria, the Russian President said that this process must conditions for ensuring the safety of all Syrians regardless of their ethnicities and religious beliefs and must pave the way for improving the economic and social situation in the country.
Putin stressed that the international community must have a mutual understanding about who are considered terrorists, saying this isn’t an issue of giving names that may be innocuous to groups, but rather it’s about these groups actions and tactics.
He went on to note that the West had many reservations about Russia’s military operations in Syria, and that the US-led alliance hasn’t given any data to Russia about the groups that are active in Syria, adding that on the other hand, the “opposition” began providing Russia with data on terrorist sites in Syria and their own site to avoid targeting them, asserting that such cooperation proves that Russia doesn’t target civilians nor the sites of the so-called opposition.
As for cooperation between the international alliance and Russia, Putin said that no marked progress has been made barring the memo on avoiding accidents in Syrian airspace, adding that the US refused to sign any agreement on the rescue of military aircraft crews, noting that Russia had immediately agreed to a similar request made by the Americans in Afghanistan in the past.
He said that Russia is prepared to cooperate with the United States regardless of the fact that America’s activities in Syria conflict with international law, aren’t based on a Security Council resolution, and aren’t requested by the Syrian government.
M. Nassr/ Barry / Hazem Sabbagh