Speaking out against foreign intervention in internal conflicts, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says people should be able to determine their own futures freely.
Putin said that while it is natural to condemn violence, the line should be drawn at foreign actors jumping headlong into the fray without considering the consequences of their actions.
"Of course, we condemn any violence from whatever side it is coming from, but one cannot act like an elephant in a china shop,” the Prime Minister said at a meeting with representatives of Russia's major religions on Wednesday. “People should be allowed to decide their future themselves.”
Putin, a leading candidate in next month’s presidential elections, cited Libya as an example of a country that continues to suffer under the influence of foreign intervention.
"I am perfectly aware of the quality of the regime in Libya, there was a lot of talk about it,” he said. “But for some reason, no one is showing and telling us what is happening today in Sirte and other cities that supported former Libyan leader [Muammar] Gaddafi.”
"Horrible crimes are taking place in these cities but no one talks about this,” Putin noted. “They have been forgotten somehow, [and this shows] the terrible consequences of foreign – and primarily – armed intervention."
On March 19, 2011, NATO forces opened a military offensive in Libya to implement a UN Security Council resolution, which was meant to protect innocent civilians. Russia, however, argued that the multi-state contingency overstepped its mandate, ultimately taking sides with Gaddafi’s political opponents.
The prime minister said the same concerns apply to Syria, where a bloody 11-month conflict continues to rage between the supporters and detractors of President Bashar al-Assad.
The world community should give the Syrian people an opportunity to decide their fate by themselves, Putin said.
The Russian Prime Minister said he believes it is possible to restrict the use of weapons by both sides in the Syrian conflict without any foreign interference.
It would be acceptable to “help, promote, and restrict [the opposing sides] in certain things, for instance in the ability of the conflicting sides to use arms and so on,” Putin said. “But by no means interfere."
Robert Bridge, RT