Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Western powers that their “dangerous” stance on the Syria crisis could come back to haunt them.
“Today some want to use militants from Al Qaeda or some other organizations with equally radical views to accomplish their goals in Syria,” Putin said in a wide-ranging interview with the RT international news channel. “This policy is very short-sighted and is fraught with dire consequences.”
Putin compared alleged Western funding of radical Islamic militants to help topple the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with U.S. support for Afghan rebels after the Soviet Union’s 1979 invasion of its Central Asia neighbor.
“When someone aspires to attain an end they see as optimal, any means will do,” Putin said “As a rule, they will try and do that by hook or by crook – and hardly ever think of the consequences.”
“That was the case during the war in Afghanistan,” he added. “At that time, our present partners supported a rebel movement there and basically gave rise to Al Qaeda, which later backfired on the United States itself.”
Putin also hit out at Western criticism of the Kremlin’s refusal to back proposed UN sanctions against the Assad regime Syria over the ongoing bloodshed in the Middle East country and dismissed suggestions that Moscow could alter its position.
“How come Russia is the only one who’s expected to revise its stance? Don’t you think our counterparts in negotiations ought to revise theirs as well?” Putin said “Because if we look back at the events in the past few years, we’ll see that quite a few of our counterparts’ initiatives have not played out the way they were intended to.”
“Look at what’s going on in Arab countries. There have been notable developments in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, etc. Would you say that order and prosperity have been totally ensured for these nations? And what’s going on in Iraq?”
“In Libya, there are armed clashes still raging among the country’s various tribes,” he said.
And Putin suggested the key to ending the conflict in Syria was to halt weapons deliveries to Damascus.
“I believe that the first thing to do is to stop shipping arms into the warzone, which is still going on,” he said. “We should stop trying to impose unacceptable solutions on either side, because it is a dead-end. That’s what we should do. It is that simple.”
The Kremlin has said its arms shipments to Syria do not violate international law and do not include equipment that could be used against “peaceful protesters.”
Russia and China vetoed a Western-backed UN resolution on Syria on July 19 over fears that it would lead to foreign military intervention in the Middle East country, a move that United States envoy to the United Nations Susan Rice called “paranoid if not disingenuous.”
The resolution was tied to Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which would have provided for the use of force to put an end to the rapidly escalating conflict.
Russia says it has no special interest in seeing Assad remain in power, but that the “Syrian people” should decide his fate.
And Putin vowed earlier this year not to allow a repeat of the “Libya scenario” which saw the ouster and murder of long-time Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi after a NATO military campaign last year.