(THE WASHINGTON POST) -- MOSCOW – Russia dramatically escalated its denunciations of American threats to attack Syrian military targets on Saturday, as President Vladimir Putin called the arguments about chemical weapons that underlie the U.S. case “utter nonsense.”
The Foreign Ministry said a U.S. attack would be a “gross violation” of international law.
Speaking out for the first time since an alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus on Aug. 21, Putin called on President Obama to find a nonviolent way out of the crisis.
“I would like to address Obama as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate: Before using force in Syria, it would be good to think about future casualties,” Putin told Russian news agencies in Vladivostok during a tour of the country’s flood-stricken Far East.
“Russia is urging you to think twice before making a decision on an operation in Syria,” he said.
Next week’s Group of 20 economic summit in St. Petersburg would be a good forum for discussing the Syrian issue, he said, “so why not take advantage of it?”
The White House argued Friday that intelligence shows more than 1,400 people died from exposure to chemical weapons in an attack carried out by the Syrian military.
Putin said he was sure the attack was the work of rebels trying to provoke international — and especially American — involvement in the Syrian conflict. The regime of Bashar al-Assad, he said, would have had no reason to use chemical weapons at a time when it had gained the upper hand in the fighting.
“While the Syrian army is on the offensive, saying that it is the Syrian government that used chemical weapons is utter nonsense,” Putin said. Read more via The Washington Post...