Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow has every reason to consider last month’s deadly chemical attack near the Syrian capital, Damascus, as a ‘smart provocation’.
“We have every ground to believe that it was a provocation. Of course, it was adroit and smart, but, at the same time, primitive in terms of technical performance,” said Putin during a Thursday meeting with Western politicians and journalists in Russia’s northwestern Novgorod region.
The fatal attack reportedly took place on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21. The US and its allies accuse the Syrian government of being behind the incident, while Syria and Russia maintain that Takfiri groups operating in the country staged the attack to incriminate President Bashar al-Assad.
The Russian leader further said Moscow is confident that the Syrian government will fulfill its commitments to destroy its chemical weapons under the recent Russia-US agreement.
Earlier this month, US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, reached an agreement on a framework that will see the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons by mid-2014.
The deal was reached after Russia offered Syria to place its chemical weapons arsenal under international supervision and the Syrian government accepted the proposal.
Putin went on to say, “So far, everything looks as if Syria has fully agreed with our proposal and is ready to act according to the plan that is being developed by the international community at the United Nations.”
On September 18, Assad said Damascus will destroy its chemical weapons arsenal, but the process will take a year and cost the Arab country a billion dollars.
Putin further rejected a military strike against Syria, stressing that such issues should be discussed at the UN Security Council rather than the US Congress.
“This would be a strike on the world order, not Syria,” he added.
US President Barack Obama, who sent the Congress a draft resolution for strike on Syria, has asked the body to delay a vote on authorizing military action against Syria in order to give the Russian proposal a chance to play out.