Moscow: In a volte-face, the Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday denied that a top diplomat said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is losing control of his country.
On Thursday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov was quoted by two state-owned Russian news agencies as saying that "there is a trend for the government to progressively lose control over an increasing part of the territory”, adding that "an opposition victory can`t be excluded”.
The United States had also hailed Bogdanov’s statement, which had been read as signalling a shift in Russia`s assessment of the situation in war-torn Syria.
However, on Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry insisted in a statement that Bogdanov "has not made any statements or special interviews recently" on Syria but was simply citing the stance of the Syrian Opposition while giving a speech.
The Foreign Ministry`s denial comes about 22 hours after the diplomat`s comments were made public.
Russia has joined China at the United Nations Security Council to veto three resolutions that would have imposed sanctions on Assad`s regime over its bloody crackdown on the uprising that began in March 2011. Moscow also has continued to provide the Syrian government with weapons despite strong international protests.
Bogdanov`s comments were quoted verbatim by state-owned Russian news agencies RIA Novosti and ITAR-Tass.
The US later on Thursday commended Russia for "waking up to the reality" by acknowledging the regime`s impending fall.
Analysts have viewed Bogdanov`s statement as Russia`s attempt to begin positioning itself for Assad`s eventual defeat.
(With Agency inputs)