Russia not going to be engaged in Syrian or any other conflicts - Putin
Russia is not going to become involved in the conflict in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin said when asked whether he could confirm, similarly to what some other foreign leaders have done, that Russia would not get engaged in the conflict in Syria under any circumstances.
"We certainly are not going to and will not get engaged in any conflicts," Putin said.
President Vladimir Putin has confirmed that Russia had supplied Syria with parts of S-300 missile defense systems, though the delivery was later suspended. Mr. Putin also stressed Moscow’s next step on arms shipments would depend on further developments in the Syrian crisis.
"We have delivered some parts of S-300. But the delivery was not completed, we have suspended it for now," the president said in an interview with Associated Press and Channel One.
"But if we see that there are attempts to violate existing international norms, we may tailor our behavior accordingly and reconsider deliveries of such sensitive weapons to some regions."
Russia has never violated international law in pursuing military-technological cooperation with Syria, President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with Channel One television and the Associated Press when asked whether Russia is continuing to honor its contracts with Syria on the supply and maintenance of military hardware.
"Yes, sure, we are doing this and proceeding from the assumption that we are cooperating with a legitimate government and not violating any provisions of international law and any of our obligations," Putin said.
Russia needs evidence regarding anyone’s guilt in the use of chemical weapons in Syria for further decisive actions, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with the First channel and Associated Press Agency.
"We will be persuaded by a deep objective study of the issue and the presence of evidence that would be obvious and clearly show, who used it and what exactly was used. After that, we will be ready to act in the most decisive and serious way," he said.
Earlier, the White House accused President of Syria Bashar al-Assad in the use of chemical weapons against the opposition and civilian population near Damascus on August, 21.
US President Barack Obama decided on conducting a military operation without UN Security Council sanctions, but he requested an approval of the Congress. The Syrian authorities deny allegations of the use of weapons of mass destruction.
Photo: RIA Novosti
If there is convincing proof of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, it should be submitted to the UN Security Council, and Russia does not have such information at the moment, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
"We presume that if someone has information that chemical weapons were used, and that they were used precisely by the regular army, then this proof should be submitted to the United Nations Security Council. To inspectors and to the Security Council. And it should be convincing," Putin said in an interview with Channel One television and the Associated Press.
This proof "should not be based on any rumors or on information obtained by special services through tapping, from some conversations and so on," he said.
"There are experts even in the United States who believe that the proof presented by the administration is not convincing and does not rule out the possibility that the opposition could have conducted a carefully planned provocative action in trying to provide their patrons with a pretext for an armed intervention," he said.
Russia does not have accurate enough information on what actually happened in Syria, he said.
"We believe that it is necessary at least to wait for the results of the survey conducted by a commission of United Nations inspectors. But we don't have information that these chemicals - and it is not clear so far whether these were chemical weapons or simply some hazardous chemicals - were used precisely by the official Syrian army," Putin said.
Moscow will react to the use of chemical weapons in Syria when it is found out for certain who committed this crime.
"If we have impartial and accurate information on who committed these crimes, then there'll be a reaction. It would be absolutely incorrect to presume something and say prematurely something like: yes, we will do this and that. Policymakers don't do that. But I'd like to assure you that we will assume a principled position," Putin said in an interview with Channel One television and the Associated Press.
In elaborating on how principled this position of Russia might be, Putin said, "The use of a weapon of mass destruction against people is a crime."
The video of children allegedly killed in a chemical weapons attack in Syria does not answer the question of who is to blame, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
"It is believed that it's a compilation created by the militants who, as we know very well, and the US administration admits it, are connected with al-Qaeda, which is known for its cruelty," Putin said in an interview with Channel One and the Associated Press.
President Vladimir Putin has not ruled out that Russia may give a go-ahead to a military intervention in Syria if it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that Damascus had used nerve agent sarin against civilians.
Russia might well agree to a decision by some countries to launch a military operation against Syria if it is proven for certain that the Syrian government is responsible for using chemical weapons, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
"I do not rule this out," Putin said in an interview with Channel One television and the Associated Press when asked what Russia's position will be if irrefutable proof that chemical weapons were used by the Syrian government is presented and whether Russia would agree to a military operation against the Syrian regime, possibly launched by the United States.
Mr. Putin also stressed such a military operation must be sanctioned by the United Nations.
Photo: RIA Novosti
Russian President Vladimir Putin sees nothing disastrous about the fact that US President Barack Obama decided not to go to Moscow; at the same time, the Russian leader expects to meet with Obama on the sidelines of the upcoming G20 summit in St. Petersburg.
He added however this visit was necessary to work on a bulk of issues that had piled between the two countries.
"I would like the US president to visit Moscow so that we might have the opportunity to talk and discuss issues that have piled up, but I don't see any special catastrophe in [Obama's decision not to come to Moscow]," Putin said in an interview with Channel One television and the Associated Press.
"We understand that Russia's position on some issues is causing some irritation for the American administration, but this can't be helped. I think it would actually be good for us not to be irritated but patient together and work on a search for solutions," Putin said.
US President Obama was initially to come to the Russian capital ahead of the G20 summit in September, but had a change of heart after Russia granted temporal asylum to National Security Agency’s whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The Kremlin issues a white paper saying it was "disappointed" and adding the invitation was still in force, should Mr. Obama change his decision again.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin hopes to discuss disarmament, global economy, North Korea and Iran at a G20 meeting with his US counterpart, Barack Obama, in St. Petersburg.
"I hope I’ll be able to talk with my American opposite number on the sidelines of the G20 summit in St. Petersburg. I’m sure that any opportunity for a dialogue, even a working meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit, would prove useful," Mr. Putin said.
The Russian leader told Associated Press and Channel One he expected to tackle a wide range of issues that had amassed over the past years, including disarmament, outlooks for the global economy, Iran and North Korea, among other problems that were of equal interest for both countries.
Russia sometimes thinks that the US Department of State wants it to be weak, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
In an interview with Russia's Channel One and the Associated Press, which is available for viewing on the Kremlin website, Putin commented on a statement made by a foreign journalist that it is commonly believed that the US Department of State is interested in weakening its rival and causing unrest in Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has admitted that Russia and the United States are dealing with some consequences of the Cold War in their relations but suggested that this concerns mid-level interaction.
"This is true to some extent. But this primarily concerns the middle level of interaction in virtually all areas and fields," Putin said in an interview with Channel One television and the Associated Press.
"I would really like to think that this does not affect the top political level," he said.
The ongoing disputes between Russia and the United States "are rooted in different understandings of the problems we are facing, different prioritization of the means to attain similar ends, and ability or inability to look for compromises and respect our partners' opinions," Putin said.
President Vladimir Putin has condemned attempts to “discredit” the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Speaking with Associated Press and Russia’s Channel One, the Russian leader said the US was among the countries that are campaigning against the Games.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he is ready to meet with representatives of the LGBT community, but they have not made any such offers yet.
"If some of them want to meet with me, I am ready, but there have not been any such initiatives yet," Putin said in an interview with The Associated Press and Russia's Channel One.
Mr. Putin also underscored that Russia had never infringed on the rights of sexual minorities.
The law against gay propaganda among minors adopted in Russia will not reflect on the Olympics, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
"It is perfectly obvious that we can be absolutely sure that Russia will strictly follow the Olympic principles, which prohibit any discrimination, based on ethnic origin, gender, or sexual orientation, during the Olympic Games and other mass sporting events," Putin said in an interview with Channel One and the Associated Press.
President Vladimir Putin has said in an interview with Associated Press and Russia’s Channel One that there is no immediate need to sequester Russia’s budget. He agreed however that there was room for some spending cuts.
Photo: RIA Novosti
"Sequester means equally deep cuts in all types of spending without exception or priorities,” Mr. Putin said. He added that sequester sometimes followed a negative and sudden change in the economic situation.
“We are not experiencing anything of the kind at the moment. We are not in the black. On the contrary, we have a small year-on-year [budget] surplus.”
Mr. Putin also stressed the importance of drafting a fresh roadmap of Russia’s social and economic development that would help the government allocate budget funds based on its priorities.
“I think, in the end, we’ll have to make some cuts," the president noted.
Russian President Vladimir Putin believes the activities by opposition activist Alexei Navalny tend to cause problems with law enforcement agencies.
"This man brings problems wherever he appears: they say he stole alcohol, or an alcohol plant, there are some problems with timber, and he also turned out to have firms abroad that he failed to declare. It's an obvious fact," Putin said in an interview with Channel One and the Associated Press.
"As to the case you are talking about [the sentence handed down to Navalny in the Kirovles case], I, of course, don't know the details, but I know that some people have been convicted. The people who have been convicted have agreed to their sentences and even decided not to appeal," the president said.
"It's not a situation when an opposition activist is being harassed just for criticizing the administration. There are things to think about there and to tell the court and law enforcement agencies," Putin said.
Putin believes that "if a person speaks about corruption, he should be flawless."
Vladimir Putin added that the Navalny case had not simply come in retaliation for anti-Kremlin criticism of the famous opposition blogger. He stressed it gave food for thought both for court and for law enforcement.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the federal center will work with any mayor elected by the people of Moscow on September 8.
"No matter who will be elected by Muscovites, the federal administration will work with any future mayor of Moscow. It's a perfectly obvious fact," Putin said in an interview with Channel One and the Associated Press.
"However, all public opinion polls show that acting mayor Sergei Sobyanin now leads. I think he has 60%, I can't remember exactly," the president said.
"If it happens that some opposition activist will receive more [votes], we will work with him," Putin said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin believes the statements on corruption prevention made by opposition activist Alexei Navalny, who is running for the post of mayor of Moscow, are aimed at winning political points, not his desire to solve real problems.
"This man has gotten on this fashionable horse, corruption prevention. I am saying once again, one has to have a clean slate himself to fight corruption. But there are problems there," Putin said in an interview with Channel One and the Associated Press.
President Vladimir Putin has vowed in an interview with Associated Press and Russia’s Channel One that NSA intelligence leaker and whistleblower Edward Snowden had not sold Russia any secrets. He added that Moscow, in its turn, had never compelled the activist to do so.
Putin also said that Russia recognized America’s right to demand the return of Snowden, but underscored that Moscow could not do that since no prisoner transfer treaty had been signed between the two nations.
Edward Snowden has not offered Russia any secret information, and Moscow's refusal to extradite him to the United States is due solely to the fact that the two countries do not have an extradition agreement, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
"The problem is not that we defended Snowden. We are not defending him in any way. The problem is that we and the US do not have an agreement on mutual extradition of criminals. We have invited the United States on numerous occasions to conclude such an agreement but have been denied," Putin said in an interview with Channel One television and the Associated Press.
"We cannot judge whether Snowden committed some crime in the US or not. We simply are not in a position to do this. But we, as a sovereign country having no such agreements with the United States, cannot do anything but provide him with the opportunity to stay here," Putin said.
Voice of Russia