The 14 Words

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Syria: Russia will stand by Assad over any US strikes, warns Putin

President Vladimir Putin gave warning that Russia would stand with Syria if America launches military strikes against the country.

Mr Putin promised to "help" President Bashar al-Assad's regime in the event of a US campaign, showing how Russia and America had failed to narrow their differences over the Syrian civil war during a tense G20 summit in St Petersburg.

President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart could not even agree on the factual point of whether a majority of G20 members supported or opposed military action.

Mr Obama said that most of the 19 countries represented at St Petersburg had backed the US position – and 11 duly signed a statement urging a "strong international response" to the poison gas attacks in Damascus.

But Mr Putin disputed this, pointing out that although David Cameron might have signed the statement, Parliament's vote against British military action showed that the Prime Minister did not speak for his country.

Ending the summit, Mr Putin said that world opinion was firmly against US-led intervention, adding that Russia would take Syria's side. "Will we help Syria? We will," he said. "We are already helping, we send arms."

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