Putin says it would be 'utter nonsense' for Assad to use chemical arms

Moscow says US violating international law if it strikes ally.

Russian President Vladimir Putin 370 (photo credit: Reuters)
Russian President Vladimir Putin 370
(photo credit: Reuters)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that it would be "utter nonsense" for the Syrian government to use chemical weapons when it was winning the war, and urged US President Barack Obama not to attack Syrian forces.
The United States said on Friday it was planning a limited military response to punish Syria's President Bashar Assad for a "brutal and flagrant" chemical weapons attack that it says killed more than 1,400 people in Damascus 10 days ago.
"That is why 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 told journalists.
The Russian president said Obama, as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, should remember the impact any US attack would have on Syrian civilians.
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.
Russia said US threats to use military force against Syria were unacceptable and that Washington would be violating international law if it acted without the approval of the UN Security Council.
The Syrian government denies using chemical weapons.
Russia, an ally of Assad's, opposes any military intervention in Syria, warning an attack would increase tensions and undermine the chances of ending the civil war. It is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, with veto power.
"Washington statements with threats to use force against Syria are unacceptable," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement late in Friday.
"Any unilateral use of force without the authorization of the UN 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.
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