Damascus (GPA) – Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters today that the US is planning “provocations” for war that would be blamed on Assad.
Putin made the statement during a joint press conference this morning with Italian President Sergio Mattarella.
Putin told the reporters that Russia has evidence of the upcoming attack. He said it will be orchestrated by US backed rebels in Syria and perpetrated near Damascus.
Putin still disputes the US claims about last week’s alleged chemical attack by the Syrian government in Idlib. Russia still supports the claim that the release of sarin gas in Idlib was due to the destruction of a stockpile under control of opposition militants.
Putin’s latest claim is that similar militants will use similar weapons in Damascus either at the direction of US intelligence agencies, or on their own, to justify more western intervention in Syria.
Putin’s exact words to the press were “We have information that a similar provocation is being prepared … in other parts of Syria including in the southern Damascus suburbs where they are planning to again plant some substance and accuse the Syrian authorities of using [chemical weapons].”
He also drew the same comparisons many world leaders and independent media outlets have recently; saying “It reminds me of the events in 2003 when U.S. envoys to the Security Council were demonstrating what they said were chemical weapons found in Iraq.” Also, just as many have been saying, Putin felt “We have seen it all already.”
Similar to 2003, the US made the allegations about Assad using chemical weapons before any international body was allowed to conduct an impartial investigation. The U.K. ambassador to the UN even told the security council that weapons inspectors aren’t allowed access to Syria’s facilities, despite the fact that they have been allowed in the country for over three years.
Putin told the reporters that Russia would be open to criticism of Assad but that didn’t mean they would abandon one of their key regional allies on the Middle East. It was in that spirit that Putin said “We plan to turn to the United Nations bodies in The Hague and call on the global community to thoroughly investigate into this incident and make balanced decisions based on the investigation’s outcome.”
Russia is encouraging the global community to send more inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to Idlib to figure out the true story of last weeks chemical attack. This is the same organization that said Assad was complying with the timeline for the destruction of his chemical weapons in the regions controlled by his military in 2013.
The statement by Putin comes just hours before US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected to arrive in Moscow. The Russian president was originally expected to meet with Tillerson this week, but the meeting was allegedly cancelled after a cruise missile strike by the US on a Syrian air base.
Despite Donald Trump’s many promises that he would normalize relations with the Kremlin it seems that things are falling apart over Syria. It’s unclear where the two countries will go from here but this is a situation that Geopolitics Alert will monitor closely for the foreseeable future.
Also published on Medium.