Russian President Vladimir Putin said Syria is a sovereign country and President Bashar al-Assad is elected by the Syrians and they alone can determine their future.
In an interview given to the Russian Interfax and the Turkish Anadolu news agencies on Friday, President Putin said that Russia doesnít have the right to discuss with President al-Assad the issue of stepping down because he is elected by the Syrian people, asserting that such a request wouldnít be a moral act and that only those who think that theyíre special allow themselves to take such impolite acts to impose their will on others.
He stressed that the main purpose of the Russian operations in Syria is to fight terrorism, and that itís linked to the Syrian Armyís operations on the ground, adding that Russia has ideas about how external forces can help Syria to defeat terrorists and emerge from the crisis, and Russian diplomacy is actively working on those ideas.
Regarding the political process in Syria, the Russian President said that this process must conditions for ensuring the safety of all Syrians regardless of their ethnicities and religious beliefs and must pave the way for improving the economic and social situation in the country.
Putin stressed that the international community must have a mutual understanding about who are considered terrorists, saying this isnít an issue of giving names that may be innocuous to groups, but rather itís about these groups actions and tactics.
He went on to note that the West had many reservations about Russiaís military operations in Syria, and that the US-led alliance hasnít given any data to Russia about the groups that are active in Syria, adding that on the other hand, the ďoppositionĒ began providing Russia with data on terrorist sites in Syria and their own site to avoid targeting them, asserting that such cooperation proves that Russia doesnít target civilians nor the sites of the so-called opposition.
As for cooperation between the international alliance and Russia, Putin said that no marked progress has been made barring the memo on avoiding accidents in Syrian airspace, adding that the US refused to sign any agreement on the rescue of military aircraft crews, noting that Russia had immediately agreed to a similar request made by the Americans in Afghanistan in the past.
He said that Russia is prepared to cooperate with the United States regardless of the fact that Americaís activities in Syria conflict with international law, arenít based on a Security Council resolution, and arenít requested by the Syrian government.