Russia has not changed its position on the crisis in Syria and the latest comments by the US State Department are a misinterpretation of the facts, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aleksandr Lukashevich said during a media briefing in Moscow.
Lukashevich noted that the US State Department has been excessively enthusiastic about Russia “finally waking up and changing its position [on Syria].”
"I think we want to commend the Russian government for finally waking up to the reality and acknowledging that the regime's days are numbered,” US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland stated. “I think the question now is will the Russian government join those of us in the international community who are working with the opposition to try to have a smooth democratic transition.”
“We were never asleep, nor did we change our position,” Lukashevich said.
The US State Department's remarks came after the media widely quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as saying on Thursday that the Syrian opposition might emerge victorious in the ongoing conflict.
“We cannot exclude the victory of opposition [in Syria]. We must face the truth: the Syrian government is gradually losing control over more and more territory of the country,” the media cited Bogdanov as saying.
“They [the opposition] say that victory is around the corner, that 'we will control Aleppo soon', 'we will control Damascus soon',” Bogdanov recalled, pointing out that recognition of the armed opposition from abroad, training of the opposition militants and arms supply inspire the Syrian opposition.
“Despite all of that, Moscow is going to continue to fulfillment of the Geneva Communiqué and peaceful settlement of the conflict,” Bogdanov said.
Bogdanov had reiterated the principal position of the Russian government in saying there were no alternatives to a political settlement of the Syrian crisis, Lukashevich said.
The Foreign Ministry spokesperson stressed deputy FM Mikhail Bogdanov has not made any statements or special interviews to the media concerning Russia's position on Syria over the last several days.
Lukashevich pointed out that comments Bogdanov made while addressing a Public Chamber session on Thursday had merely cited statements made by the Syrian opposition, not endorsed them. Bogdanov further "voiced the principal stance” of the Russian government that the settlement of the Syrian crisis has only a political alternative, a position which was generally agreed upon in Geneva last summer.
“Political settlement in Syria must be based on the final communiqué of the Action Group jointly approved on ministerial level in Geneva on June 30,” Lukashevich stressed.