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Putin warns West,but doesn’t ‘exclude’ action against Assad

Development means Syria crisis likely to dominate G20 summit beginning today.

Written by Associated Press | Novo-ogaryovo | September 5, 2013 12:38:49 am

Development means Syria crisis likely to dominate G20 summit beginning on Thursday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the West against taking one-sided action in Syria but also said Russia “doesn’t exclude’’ supporting a UN resolution on punitive military strikes if it is proved that Damascus used poison gas on its own people.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press and Russia’s state Channel 1 television on Tuesday night,Putin said it was “ludicrous’’ that the government of President Bashar Assad — a staunch ally of Russia — would use chemical weapons at a time when it was holding sway against the rebels.

“If there are data that the chemical weapons have been used,and used specifically by the regular army,this evidence should be submitted to the UN Security Council,’’ added Putin. “And it ought to be convincing. It shouldn’t be based on some rumours and information obtained by special services through some kind of eavesdropping.’’

He noted that even in the US,“there are experts who believe that the evidence presented by the administration doesn’t look convincing.’’

Putin said he “doesn’t exclude’’ backing the use of force against Syria at the UN if there is objective evidence proving that Assad’s regime used chemical weapons against its people. But he strongly warned Washington against launching military action without UN approval,saying it would represent an aggression.

Putin said it was “too early’’ to talk about what Russia would do if the US attacked Syria. “We have our ideas about what we will do and how we will do it in case the situation develops toward the use of force or otherwise,’’ he said.

Putin said Moscow has provided some components of the S-300 air defense missile system to Syria but has frozen further shipments. He suggested Russia may sell the potent missile systems elsewhere if the West attacks Syria without UNSC backing.

The interview at Putin’s country residence outside Moscow was the only one he granted prior to the summit of G-20 nations in St Petersburg,which opens Thursday. The summit was supposed to concentrate on global economy but now looks likely to be dominated by the international crisis over allegations that the Syria used chemical weapons in the country’s civil war.

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