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US strike on Syria without UN nod would be `aggression`: Putin

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 16:33

Zee Media Bureau

Moscow: Refuting US claims that Assad regime used chemicals against its own people, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday warned that any one-sided action on Syria by the United States or its allies without UN backing would be an "aggression".

Speaking in an interview to Russia`s state-run Channel One television, Putin also said that he wouldn`t mind backing a resolution against Syria if it was "proved beyond doubt" who was responsible for the attack.

"If there is evidence that chemical weapons were used, and by the regular army,... then this evidence must be presented to the UN Security Council. And it must be convincing," Putin said.

Expressing disbelief in Sarin gas evidence claimed by the US, Putin said that the proof shouldn`t be based on "rumours and information obtained by special services through some kind of eavesdropping".

Referring to Iraq war of 2003 and the US claims of WMD being possessed by Saddam Hussain government, Putin said, "All these arguments turned out to be untenable, but they were used to launch a military action, which many in the US called a mistake. Did we forget about that?"

Putin said that it was "absurd" for Syrian Army to use chemical bombs when they were faring better than rebels and "finishing them off".

Putin noted that even in the US, "there are experts who believe that the evidence presented by the administration doesn`t look convincing, and they don`t exclude the possibility that the opposition conducted a premeditated provocative action trying to give their sponsors a pretext for military intervention."

He said he "doesn`t exclude" backing the use of force against Syria at the United Nations if there is objective evidence proving that Assad`s regime used chemical weapons against its people.

Putin reinforced his demand that before taking action, Obama needed approval from the UN Security Council. Russia can veto resolutions in the council and has protected Syria from punitive actions there before.

On being asked about Russia`s plans in case US attacked Syria, Putin said it was "too early" to talk about that.

"We have our ideas about what we will do and how we will do it in case the situation develops toward the use of force or otherwise," he said. "We have our plans."

Putin called the S-300 air defense missile system "a very efficient weapon" and said that Russia had a contract for its delivery of the S-300s to Syria. "We have supplied some of the components, but the delivery hasn`t been completed. We have suspended it for now," he said.

"But if we see that steps are taken that violate the existing international norms, we shall think how we should act in the future, in particular regarding supplies of such sensitive weapons to certain regions of the world," he said.

The statement could be a veiled threat to revive a contract for the delivery of the S-300s to Iran, which Russia cancelled a few years ago under strong US and Israeli pressure.

Putin also accused US intelligence agencies of bungling efforts to apprehend Snowden, the National Security Agency leader, who is wanted in the US on espionage charges.

He also gave the first official confirmation that Snowden had been in touch with Russian officials in Hong Kong before flying to Moscow on June 23, but said he only learned that Snowden was on the flight two hours before it arrived.

With Agency Inputs

First Published: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 14:10

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