Claims of chemical weapons use by Syria regime 'utter nonsense': Russian President Putin
MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse / Reuters
Russia's President Vladimir Putin talks to journalists in the far eastern city of Vladivostok, Aug. 31. REUTERS photoRussian President Vladimir Putin on Aug. 31 firmly rejected claims that the Syria regime has used chemical weapons, calling it "nonsense" and demanding proof.
"Syrian government troops are on the offensive and have surrounded the opposition in several regions. In these conditions, to give a trump card to those who are calling for a military intervention is utter nonsense," Putin told reporters in Vladivostok in response to a question on alleged chemical weapons use by the regime.
"I am convinced that it (the chemical attack) is nothing more than a provocation by those who want to drag other countries into the Syrian conflict, and who want to win the support of powerful members of the international arena, especially the United States," Putin said.
The Russian president said Obama, as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, should remember the impact any U.S. attack would have on Syrian civilians.
"Regarding the position of our American colleagues, who affirm that government troops used... chemical weapons, and say that they have proof, well, let them show it to the United Nations inspectors and the Security Council," he told journalists.
"If they don't show it, that means there is none."
G20 'good platform to discuss Syria'
World powers should discuss the Syrian crisis at a meeting of the leaders of the Group of 20 developed and developing nations in St. Petersburg next week, he added. "This [G20 summit} is a good platform to discuss the problem. Why not use it?" Putin said.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich warned that Washington would be violating international law if it acted without the approval of the U.N. Security Council.
"Washington statements with threats to use force against Syria are unacceptable," Lukashevich said in a statement late in Aug. 30.
"Any unilateral use of force without the authorisation of the U.N. Security Council, no matter how 'limited' it is, will be a clear violation of international law, will undermine prospects for a political and diplomatic resolution of the conflict in Syria and will lead to a new round of confrontation and new casualties."
Lukashevich also said that Washington's threats were made "in the absence of any proof" of the Syrian government using chemical weapons.