Putin: Syria needs negotiations to stop ‘massacre’
Russia is not looking to oust Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and wants the conflicting parties to negotiate and stop the "massacre," putting an end to the "catastrophe" in Syria, President Vladimir Putin said on Friday, RIA Novosti reported.
"We do not think that Assad should leave today, as our partners suggest. In this case, tomorrow we will have to decide what to do and where to go," Putin told German broadcaster ARD in an interview at his Novo-Ogarevo residence near Moscow.
He cited Libya as an example, which, according to him, "has already split into three parts."
"We don't want a situation that is just as difficult as in Iraq. We do not want to have a situation of the same difficulty as in Yemen, and so on," he said.
"We believe it is necessary to sit everyone down at the negotiating table, so that all warring parties could reach an agreement on how their interests will be protected and in what way they will participate in the future governance of the country," he said.
Putin also reiterated that Russian supplies of weapons to Syria are legal, while supplying arms to rebels fighting the authorities contradicts international norms and laws.
"First of all, there are no bans on arms supplies to incumbent legitimate governments. Secondly, only recently the opposition received 3.5 tons of arms and ammunition through airports near Syria," he said referring to an article in The New York Times last week.
"There are international legal norms stating that it is inadmissible to supply arms to armed groups that strive to destabilize the situation in a certain country with the use of weapons," he added.
About 70,000 people have died in Syria since the start of the uprising against president Assad in March 2011, according to UN estimates.