RIA Novosti: Russian Pundits See Putin’s Statement On Syria As Manoeuvring Before G20

File Photo of Russia-Hosted G20 Banners Outdoors Before Yellow and White Facade of Historic-Looking Building

(RIA Novosti – September 4, 2013) Russian experts believe that President Vladimir Putin’s statement that Moscow is ready to act decisively if the use of chemical weapons in Syria is proved beyond doubt is a diplomatic manoeuvre ahead of the G20 summit in St Petersburg, Russian RIA Novosti reported on 4 September.

“This is a diplomatic manoeuvring. Russian diplomats are confident that it is impossible to provide a complete proof that (Syrian President) Bashar al-Asad has used chemical weapons. There is much evidence that the chemical attack was launched by the opposition to provoke a military offensive,” director of the Institute for Policy Studies and a member of the Public Chamber Sergey Markov said.

According to him, Moscow and Washington have got another reason to discuss a solution to the Syrian crisis. US President Barack Obama should not waste this opportunity in St Petersburg, Markov said.

“This move is intended to refute the idea, promoted by Obama, that he is forced to give an order about bombing outside the UN Security Council, since the Security Council is paralysed. Putin is saying we are ready for dialogue. This is a great opportunity for a personal meeting between Putin and Obama on the sidelines of the G20 summit,” the analyst said.

Putin had been obliged to make his statement but it was carefully calculated, director of the Centre of Analysis of Middle East conflicts of the Institute of USA and Canada Studies Aleksandr Shumilin said. “We are not surrendering our positions but modifying them to reflect new realities. Clearly, Al-Asad is on his last legs, and this means we need to think about a situation without Al-Asad. But this is in the long term. For the time being, something else is important. It is necessary to create an environment at the G20 summit in which people will at least say hello to the G20 summit host, rather than see in him the defender of the most obnoxious criminals in the world,” he said.

Shumilin said that, taking into account the evidence cited by Western countries, the UN commission is unlikely to say something else, so a military strike against Syria is very likely.

Director-general of the Russian Council on International Affairs Andrey Kortunov notes that the West continues to say that Moscow is fighting to save the Syrian regime. According to Kortunov, Putin had decided to once again clarify the Russian position ahead of the meeting of G20 leaders in St Petersburg.

“If chemical weapons were indeed used, this is unacceptable, from the Russian point of view. In this case, Russia will be ready to support an international response. But Russia insists that allegations about the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government should be confirmed by facts and UN experts,” Kortunov said.

According to the expert, Putin spoke about Russia’s adherence to the norms of international law, as well as its intention to defend its national interests. “If it happens that chemical weapons in Syria are not controlled by anyone, they fall into the hands of terrorist groups. There is an international terrorist network, so the threat that these weapons can be used in Russia is also increasing. We can not be interested in these weapons getting out of control,” the expert said.

In his view, this statement by the Russian president must be heard by all owners of weapons of mass destruction.