Putin warns against interference in Syria, ME


Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that any attempt to unilaterally use force or interfere with events in the Middle East or North Africa would be counter-productive, rebutting growing calls to intervene in Syria’s civil war.

Russia and China have strongly opposed the idea of foreign intervention in Syria, vetoing three United Nations Security Council resolutions backed by Western and Arab states that would have increased pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to stop the bloodshed.

Both countries have also voiced opposition to new sanctions on Iran and to any moves to attack it.

“Attempts to replace the universal principles of the U.N. Charter by unilateral actions or partisan deals, moreover to use force bypassing the U.N. do not do any good, as is well known,” Putin told foreign ambassadors in the Kremlin, where he was receiving their new credentials.

Putin said his warning concerned civil unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, adding that the U.N. Charter was meant to be used to solve problems “through negotiations, without external interference”.

“Incitement of violence in different forms in order to change the regime only pushes the situation into a dead end. Violence creates violence,” Putin said.

Putin’s warning came as Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani told the U.N. General Assembly in New York that Arab nations should intervene in Syria given the U.N. Security Council’s failure to stop the conflict there.

The 18-month-old revolt, which began as peaceful street protests, has escalated into a civil war in which activists say over 27,000 people have died.

Russia accused NATO of overstepping a U.N. Security Council mandate for a no fly zone over Libya last year to help rebels overthrow former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Earlier this month, Putin condemned the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya but made it clear he believed Western support for rebels in Arab countries was fuelling chaos.

“Most recently we received proof that such a position is right. It is time to learn some lessons from what is going on,” Putin said on Wednesday.

Russia has also accused Western nations of encouraging Syrian rebels including armed extremists.