After talks with the Turkish PM, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that his country cannot give any guarantees on the Syrian leader’s intentions, but shares international concern over the humanitarian situation in Syria and the wider region.
Russia is more worried about Syria’s future as it sees the repetition of the Libyan scenario as the most dangerous development under current conditions, Putin stressed.
Top of the agenda at the meeting in Istanbul, was the situation in and around Syria, the discussions took place a short time after the countries’ relations were shaken by the interception of a Damascus-bound Russian plane by Turkish forces.
Ahead of the meeting, Turkey’s premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan, pointed out that “Russia is holding the key…Russia’s attitude is crucial,” addressing the ongoing Syrian conflict.
Speaking at the joint press conference at the end of the visit, Vladimir Putin said that Russia and Turkey share the same goals in terms of what results they seek in Syria, but unfortunately they have not yet reached an agreement on the ways by which these results must be achieved.
Putin stressed that as Russia and Turkey are neighbors their position on the humanitarian situation in the region and on the influx of refugees to Turkey, are the same. The Russian leader said that he and the Turkish Prime Minister have already issued instructions to the countries’ top officials to hold talks concerning several new ideas discussed during the summit. However, the Russian President said that it was too early to disclose these new ideas as the talks were at a very early stage.
When a reporter asked Vladimir Putin if he could guarantee that Syria would not use nuclear weapons against Turkey, the Russian leader suggested that the question must be a joke or a translation mistake as it was common knowledge that Syria is not a nuclear country.
As for the beefing up of Turkey’s defenses, in particular the possible placing of Patriot missiles along the Syrian border, the Russian leader noted that Patriot missiles were not new weapons and could not guarantee safety. Putin also stressed that accumulating weapons on the border with another country does not add to stability, quoting a famous Russian playwright who said “if a gun is hanging on the wall in the beginning of the show, closer to the end it will surely fire”.
Putin also said that although Russia cannot be considered a guarantor in the Syrian crisis, a mere reasonable observation makes it absolutely clear that Syrian authorities are completely absorbed in their internal crisis and therefore have little time to think about attacks on their neighbors, including Turkey.
Initially, the Monday meeting was scheduled for October 14-15 . However, shortly before the planned meeting, Turkey intercepted a Russian plane bound for Syria, which- according to the Turkish officials- contained Russia-made weapons. Moscow and Damascus denied the claim and the talks were postponed.
The meeting in Istanbul also stood out as it was shrouded in speculation about Putin’s supposed health problems, which the president’s press secretary and other Russian officials have strongly denied.