Putin defiant on Syria, calls Romney 'mistaken'

Russian leader accuses "somebody" of using al-Qaida in Syria, facetiously says US should allow Guantanamo inmates into Syria.

September 6, 2012 12:09
2 minute read.
President Putin meets President Assad: File Photo

Putin and Assad (R370). (photo credit: REUTERS)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin signaled in an interview aired on Thursday that Russia is not ready to shift its stance on Syria, and suggested Western nations were relying on groups such as al-Qaida to help drive President Bashar Assad from power.

In wide-ranging remarks to Russia's RT television, Putin held out hope for an end to a dispute with Washington on missile defense if President Barack Obama is re-elected, calling him "an honest person who really wants to change much for the better."

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

Putin took aim at Obama's Republican rival Mitt Romney, calling his criticism of Russia "mistaken" campaign rhetoric and suggesting that a Romney presidency would widen the rift over the anti-missile shield the United States is deploying in Europe.

In some of his most extensive public comments since he started a six-year term in May, Putin dismissed Western criticism on issues ranging from Syria to the conviction of three anti-government protesters from the punk band Pussy Riot.

Putin was asked whether Moscow should rethink its stance on Syria after vetoing three Western-backed UN Security Council resolutions designed to pressure Assad to end violence that has killed 20,000 people.

"Why should only Russia re-evaluate its position?" he said. "Maybe our partners in the negotiation process should re-evaluate their position."

Click for full JPost coverage

Without naming any country, he hinted the United States was looking to militants to help topple Assad and would regret it, drawing a parallel with US support for the mujahideen who fought Soviet forces in Afghanistan during the Cold War.

"Today somebody is using al-Qaida fighters or people from other organizations with the same extreme views to achieve their goals in Syria," Putin said. "This is a very dangerous and short-sighted policy."

He noted that the United States had imprisoned many alleged Islamic militants at Guantanamo Bay and said it might as well "open the gates to Guantanamo and let all the Guantanamo inmates into Syria, let them fight. It's the same thing."

Putin, who has signed laws in his new term that critics call part of a campaign to suppress dissent after the biggest protests of his 12 years in power, defended such actions as necessary to instil order and said he had taken steps to improve democracy.

"What is 'tightening the screws'?" he said, according to a Kremlin transcript. "If this means the demand that everyone, including representatives of the opposition, obey the law, then yes, this demand will be consistently implemented."

Putin used a mix of moral arguments and earthy language in an exchange on Pussy Riot, three of whose members were convicted of hooliganism and jailed for two years after performing a raucous anti-Putin protest song inside a Moscow cathedral.

He prodded the interviewer to translate the first word of the band's name and made an off-color joke about the merits of group sex but also said that "the state is obliged to protect the feelings of believers."

He denied allegations from Pussy Riot's lawyers that he had influenced the trial.

Related Content

August 15, 2018
Experts say Iran, N. Korea might manipulate, wait out Trump