RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi on Thursday that he is convinced that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is ready for dialogue with the opposition.
‘The Syrian conflict was caused by not only the fight against militants and terrorist aggression, although it is evident and the terrorists just made use of difficulties in Syria. It is necessary to separate the terrorist threat from domestic political problems,’ Putin said at a meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club.
He said, ‘the Syrian leadership should establish working contacts with those opposition forces that are ready for dialogue. As I understood from my conversation with President Assad the day before yesterday, he is ready for such a dialogue,’ Putin said.
According to the Russian leader, Bashar al-Assad during their talks in Moscow told him that he would be positive if the Russian Federation gave support to the armed opposition in Syria that was ready to fight terrorists.
‘I asked Bashar al-Assad what his attitude would be if we found in Syria even armed opposition that would be ready to really counter and fight terrorists, the ISIL, if we supported their efforts in the fight against terrorists like we support the Syrian army.’
According to the Russian leader, Assad replied he would be positive about it. ‘We are thinking it over, and trying, if possible, to translate these agreements into practice,’ Putin added. Moscow says it has information that the terrorists in Syria are still supported from abroad. He said that the terrorist organisation Islamic State had gained control of vast territories and should they capture Damascus or Baghdad, it might in fact contest the status of official authorities.
‘The international community must realise at last what we are confronted with – the enemy of civilisation, of humanity and of world culture,’ Putin said at a meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club. It is wrong to juggle with words and say some terrorists are moderate and others not moderate,’ Putin said.
Putin also pointed out he hoped the United States would not hand man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS) to the Syrian opposition. There will be no expansion of the Russian Armed Forces operations to the territory of Iraq,’ the president noted. ”No, there are no such plans and there can’t be, as the Iraqi government has not asked us for assistance,’ Putin told the meeting.
‘We hope coordinated actions of our strike aviation and other destruction facilities coordinated with operations of the Syrian Armed Forces will bring about encouraging results,’ he said. ‘I think, and our military share my opinion, a result is already there,’ he said. ‘Is it sufficient for suppressing terrorism in Syria. No. More serious efforts are needed to affirm this claim and more joint work I’m stressing the word “joint” is required.’
• President then went on to discuss the situation in the Ukraine saying: The situation in Ukraine will hardly be settled without the participation of Europe and the United States as Kiev does not implement the Minsk Agreements. Without the participation of Europe and the United States, it will be hardly possible to settle the situation. It is useless to endlessly accuse Russia of failing to implement or failing to prompt the authorities of the unrecognised republics in Ukraine’s southeast to implement the Minsk Agreements, if the key provisions of the Minsk deals are not implemented by the Kiev authorities,’ Putin said.
‘And they are not implemented by the Kiev authorities,’ he said. The Kremlin Chief of Staff Sergey Ivanov is concerned with incidents ahead of local elections in Ukraine. ‘The media reports – not only Russian, but also foreign media – about what is going on there in Ukraine. Candidates are shot at, beaten. Thousands of unregistered bulletins are found, and so on. This is what really concerns me from the point of view of the democratic nature of the elections,’ Ivanov told journalists.
He cited the example of the opposition bloc that was suspended from election in Kharkov ‘without any grounds. Is this democratic?’ Ivanov asked. Sergey Ivanov said he does not see significant progress in the situation in Ukraine and stressed that Kiev should hold talks with Donbas.
‘I would not say that,’ Ivanov told journalists, answering a question on whether there is progress in the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. ‘I would be cautious and not make such optimistic forecasts,’ he added. Ivanov noted that the sides in the conflict declare their adherence to the Minsk Agreements. ‘Talking about the implementation, I have not yet seen significant progress, apart from the loyal part, of course,’ he noted. ‘Active combat actions have thankfully stopped. This should be followed by what is outlined in the Minsk Agreements step by step,’ Ivanov said.
‘I think that there will be no progress until the Ukrainian leadership understands the obvious necessity of establishing contacts with the leaders of Donetsk and Lugansk,’ he stressed. ‘Without dialogue, no progress will be reached no matter what Germany, France, and Russia say. We will not be able to hold talks instead of them,’ Ivanov noted. He expressed the hope that Kiev will adhere ‘to the letter of the Minsk Agreements’.
A diplomat in Kiev said on Thursday that the foreign ministers of the Normandy Quartet (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine) will meet in Berlin on November 5-6.