Putin Reassures Turkey that Syria Is No Threat
“It’s common sense, you don’t have to be an expert or use intelligence reports to see that Syria is far from plotting an attack on its neighbors – it is absolutely unrealistic,” Putin said at a joint news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul.
He said that Russia shared Turkey’s concern over recent incidents on the Turkey-Syria border, but urged both sides to show restraint in dealing with the volatile situation.
Turkey has opened fire several times in recent weeks across its border with Syria in retaliation for shelling from Syria, which killed five Turkish civilians in October. It has also provided shelter to refugees fleeing the violence in Syria, and has been one of President Bashar al-Assad’s harshest critics during the almost 17-month revolt against his rule.
Tensions between Turkey and Syria flared dangerously this summer, after Damascus shot down a Turkish fighter that had violated its airspace. Turkey threatened retaliation if there was any repeat of the incident, although it admitted its plane had mistakenly strayed slightly into Syrian airspace.
The Russian president downplayed the possible deployment of NATO Patriot air defense systems in Turkey along its border with Syria, and stressed that this would only complicate the situation in the region.
“First of all, Patriot is not the best air defense system in the world, and, secondly…the deployment of additional [military] capability on the border does not ease the tensions but aggravates the situation instead,” Putin said.
Turkey formally requested Patriot missiles from the military alliance after weeks of talks with NATO allies about how to shore up security on its 900-kilometer (560 mile) border with Syria.
Putin also said that Russia and Turkey had agreed on the need to end the conflict in Syria, but acknowledged that Moscow and Istanbul did not yet see completely eye to eye over how to achieve this goal.
“We discussed this issue today with our Turkish colleagues, and came up with some new ideas, which require further analysis and planning,” the president said.
The Syrian conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives since the uprising against Assad started in March 2011, according to UN reports. The UN said on Monday it was pulling as many as 25 out of its 100 international staff out of Syria in response to the deteriorating situation around Damascus.
Russia, along with China, has drawn heavy Western criticism for its refusal to support UN sanctions against Assad's regime, Moscow’s sole remaining ally in the Arab world. Moscow said the proposed UN resolutions in fact betrayed a pro-rebel bias and would do nothing to bring peace.
Putin reiterated on Monday that Russia’s stance on the Syrian conflict was not aimed at protecting Bashar al-Assad’s regime, but rather reflected Moscow’s concerns over the broader outcomes of the crisis in Syria.
“I have said many times that we are not advocates of Syria’s current leadership, but we are concerned about what will happen [in Syria],” he said.
“We do not want the repetition of the mistakes which we believe have been made in the recent past,” Putin said, implicitly referring to the “Libya scenario,” which saw the ouster and murder of long-time Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi after a NATO military campaign.
Related news releases
- 22.02.2013US calls possible Iranian nuclear step 'another provocation'
- 21.02.2013Russian military to tackle threat from space objects: general
- 17.02.2013Tunisian PM delays announcement of new govn't until Monday
- 07.02.2013Legality of Drone Strikes, Assassinations Under Fire in US
- 30.01.2013Soldier with new arms determined to be independent
- 26.01.201327 die in Egypt riot after soccer violence verdict
- 25.01.2013Elections in Israel show disenchantment of Arab citizens with Israeli politics
- 22.01.2013Bank of Azerbaijan changes composition of shareholders - UPDATED
- 18.01.2013Party chairman: “Azerbaijan should also demonstrate uncertain position on Georgia’s territorial integrity”
- 17.01.2013Blasts continue to devastate Syria amid int'l condemnation
- 12.01.2013Malian army beats back Islamist rebels with French help
- 12.01.2013Tunisia wants peaceful outcome of crisis in Syria: diplomat
- 11.01.2013Exchange rate of euro hits 8-months maximum in Azerbaijan
- 11.01.2013Death toll of twin blasts in Quetta, Pakistan rises to 100 - UPDATED
- 10.01.2013Saudi Arabia executes Sri Lankan maid for murdering baby
- 06.01.20131 dead, 39 injured in E China road accident
- 05.01.2013Colombia firm makes armored clothes for kids
- 29.12.2012Playbill of theater and concert halls for January, 2013
- 27.12.2012Azerbaijan-2012: Events of the year - POLITICAL - ANALYSIS
- 26.12.2012CAR rebels say they don't intend to seize capital
- 26.12.20125.1-magnitude quake hits Pakistan - USGS
- 23.12.2012Referendum on Egypt’s New Constitution Over
- 21.12.2012Egypt's Islamists call for Friday rally 'to defend scholars and mosques'
- 20.12.2012AGBI rises 0.01%, ACBDI drops 0.02%, AMFBI jumps 0.01%
- 14.12.2012Obama Says Feds Won’t Smoke Out Marijuana Users
- 14.12.2012Iran ex-diplomat freed after 6-year house arrest in London
- 12.12.2012Press Secretary of the President of Russia: “Russia has the potential to compensate activity of the Gabala radar station”
- 10.12.2012Russian Security Council Secretary: “Threat of “color revolutions” still exists in Russia and other CIS countries”
- 09.12.2012Father fatally shoots son outside Pennsylvania gun store
- 09.12.2012Russia Fails To Insert Yamal-402 Satellite Into Desired Orbit
- 08.12.2012South African icon Nelson Mandela hospitalized
- 08.12.2012Syria tells UN will never use WMDs against Syrians
- 07.12.2012Egypt protesters breach barriers, march on palace
- 07.12.2012Hamas chief arrives in Gaza for 1st-ever visit
- 06.12.2012Marijuana Possession Now Legal in Washington State
- 30.11.2012Egypt Islamists back down on Tahrir rally call
- 29.11.2012Russia to help Belarus join WTO
- 29.11.2012Merkel's election schedule weighs on Greek bailout
- 28.11.2012Volcanic Eruption Starts in Far East
- 27.11.2012Iran underscores peaceful reforms in Syria
- 04.12.2012Armenians continue firing on positions of Azerbaijani Army
- 04.12.201214 killed in clothing factory fire in south China
- 06.12.2012Over 200 Injured in Egypt Clashes - Medical Service
- 03.12.2012Iraqi gov't criticizes Kurds for troops build-up in disputed areas
- 02.12.2012Turkish FM: Syrian regime resembles armed militia
- 01.12.2012Israel okays new West Bank settlement construction