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Vladimir Putin has made a direct personal appeal to the American people over the Syrian crisis.
In an opinion article in the New York Times, Vladimir Putin warns that a US military strike against Syria could unleash a new wave of terrorism.
The Russian president says millions of people see the US not as a model of democracy but as relying on brute force.
The US and Russia are due to hold talks in Geneva later over Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.
Moscow, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has proposed putting the weapons under international control before destroying them.
Damascus has agreed, at least partially, to the proposal, and President Barack Obama to put military action against Syria on hold.
The US blames the Syrian government for a chemical weapons attack near Damascus last month that killed hundreds. Syria blames the attack on rebels.
As the diplomatic efforts continue, the Syrian army has been trying to retake the Christian town of Maaloula which was overrun by rebel forces – including members of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front – at the weekend.
Vladimir Putin has made a direct personal appeal to the American people over the Syrian crisis
In the New York Times article, Vladimir Putin says recent events “have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders”.
He warned that the UN could suffer the same fate as its precursor, the League of Nations, if “influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization”.
“The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the Pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders,” Vladimir Putin says.
“A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.”
Vladimir Putin said Russia was not protecting the Syrian government “but international law”.
He reiterated Russia’s opinion that the gas attack of August 21 was probably carried out by opposition forces “to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons”.
“Reports that militants are preparing another attack – this time against Israel – cannot be ignored,” he adds.
“It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force.”
The article comes as US Secretary of State John Kerry prepares to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Geneva to discuss Moscow’s proposal.
Vladimir Putin has warned America and its allies against taking one-sided action in Syria.
The Russian president said any military strikes without UN approval would be “an aggression”.
President Barack Obama has called for punitive action in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack.
Vladimir Putin said Russia did not rule out supporting a UN Security Council resolution authorizing force, if it was proved “beyond doubt” that the Syrian government used chemical weapons.
On Tuesday evening, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee agreed on a draft resolution backing the use of US military force.
The measure, to be voted on next week, sets a time limit of 60 days on any operation.
According to the draft resolution, the operation would be restricted to a “limited and tailored use of the United States Armed Forces against Syria”, and ban the use of any ground forces.
The US has put the death toll from the alleged chemical attack on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21 at 1,429, though other countries and organizations have given lower figures.
Vladimir Putin has warned America and its allies against taking one-sided action in Syria
Vladimir Putin was speaking ahead of the G20 summit in St Petersburg, which opens on Thursday and is supposed to concentrate on the global economy, but now looks likely to be dominated by the Syrian crisis.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press and Russia’s state Channel 1 television, Vladimir Putin said it was “ludicrous” that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an ally of Russia, would use chemical weapons at a time when it was gaining ground against the rebels.
“If there is evidence that chemical weapons were used, and by the regular army… then this evidence must be presented to the UN Security Council. And it must be convincing,” Vladimir Putin said.
But in what correspondents say is an apparent change in stance, Vladimir Putin said Russia would “be ready to act in the most decisive and serious way” if there was clear proof of what weapons were used and who used them.
Vladimir Putin said it was “too early” to talk about what Russia would do if America took action without a UN resolution.
He confirmed that Russia had currently suspended delivering further components of S-300 missile systems to Syria.
“But if we see that steps are taken that violate the existing international norms, we shall think how we should act in the future, in particular regarding supplies of such sensitive weapons to certain regions of the world.”
The US Congress is expected to vote next week on whether to back President Barack Obama’s push for military strikes in Syria.
Ahead of next week’s vote in Congress on whether to back military strikes in Syria, US Secretary of State John Kerry appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday to promote the Obama administration’s case.
Syrian government forces killed 1,429 people in a chemical weapons attack in Damascus last week, said US Secretary of State John Kerry.
John Kerry said the dead included 426 children, and described the attack as an “inconceivable horror”.
The US is pushing for intervention to stop the Syrian government from using chemical weapons.
John Kerry has said Syrian government forces killed 1,429 people in a chemical weapons attack in Damascus last week
The government of President Bashar al-Assad has denied carrying out the attack and blames rebel forces.
Medical charities had previously said the attack in eastern Damascus on August 21 had killed 355.
But John Kerry said the US now had the facts, which showed 1,429 people had been killed.
He said Assad regime forces had prepared for the attack three days earlier.
“We know rockets came only from regime-controlled areas and landed only in opposition-held areas,” he said.
“All of these things we know, the American intelligence community has high confidence.”
John Kerry said the government would consult Congress and the American people over the next step.
The British Parliament vote against military strikes in Syria is a tough blow to PM David Cameron’s domestic political fortunes.
Since taking office in 2010, David Cameron has on numerous occasions been undercut not just from opposition parties, but also from rebel elements within both his own Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats, the junior member of the U.K.’s governing coalition.
The government lost a vote – by a tally of 285 to 272 – that would have supported in principle military intervention in Syria, where Western governments have said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime carried out a deadly chemical-weapons attack on civilians last week. Members of all major parties – including David Cameron’s Tories – opposed the measure.
The British Parliament vote against military strikes in Syria is a tough blow to PM David Cameron’s domestic political fortunes
David Cameron said it is clear that the British Parliament, reflecting the view of the British people, doesn’t want to see the U.K. get involved in military action and “the government will act accordingly”.
The outcome marks a significant moment in British politics – it is highly unusual for a prime minister to be defeated on foreign policy and raises questions about what the U.K.’s role will be the world stage going forward.
It is also a rare setback for U.S.-U.K. relations that will spur questions about the so-called “special relationship” between the two nations. In recent decades, the U.K. has rarely if ever parted ways with the U.S. on such a significant strategic issue.
While the government doesn’t require parliamentary approval to take military action, it would now be politically difficult to do so. A further parliamentary vote had been due to take place early next week on whether the U.K. should be directly involved in that action. A spokesman for the prime minister confirmed that the U.K. now won’t take part in the Syrian action.
The outcome of the U.K. vote could make it more difficult for President Barack Obama and other Western allies – already weary from years of difficult military intervention in the Middle East – to convince their own publics of the need for intervention in Syria.
President Barack Obama has said he has not yet decided on Syria strike.
However, the president said he had concluded Syrian government forces were behind a recent chemical weapons attack near Damascus.
Speaking on US television, Barack Obama said the use of chemical weapons affected US national interests and that sending a “shot across the bows” could have a positive impact on Syria’s war.
His comments follow a day of behind-the-scenes wrangling at the UN.
Meanwhile the UK had been pushing for permanent members of the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution which would have authorized measures to protect civilians in Syria.
But Syrian ally Russia refused to agree to the resolution and the meeting produced no end to the diplomatic stalemate which has long characterized the UN position on Syria.
The US State Department criticized “Russian intransigence” and said it could not allow diplomatic paralysis to serve as a shield for the Syrian leadership.
Russia is sending an anti-submarine ship and a missile cruiser to the eastern Mediterranean.
The ships are being sent to strengthen the navy’s presence in the area because of the “well-known situation” there, the Russian news agency Interfax has said.
But another news agency, RIA Novosti, quotes a senior naval command spokesman as saying that this is just a planned rotation, unconnected with Syria.
Critics have questioned what purpose a limited strike on Syria could serve, but Barack Obama told the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) it would send the government of Bashar al-Assad “a pretty strong signal that it better not [use chemical weapons] again”.
President Barack Obama has said he has not yet decided on Syria strike
The US has yet to produce the intelligence it says shows Bashar al-Assad’s government is guilty of using chemical weapons, and UN weapons inspectors are still investigating inside Syria.
The team has just begun a third day of on-site investigations, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has appealed for it to be “given time to do its job”. He said the inspectors would finish their investigations and be out of the area by Saturday morning.
Syria denies using chemical weapons and blames opposition fighters for the attack near Damascus on August 21, which reportedly killed hundreds of people.
It accused the West of “inventing” excuses to launch a strike.
In a sign of growing fears about an impending attack among Syrians, the Associated Press quoted Lebanese officials as saying at least 6,000 Syrians crossed into Lebanon in a 24-hour period through the main Masnaa crossing – compared to a normal daily tally of between 500 and 1,000 refugees.
In Damascus senior military commanders are reportedly staying away from buildings thought likely to be targeted.
President Barack Obama told PBS that the US had “not yet made a decision, but the international norm against the use of chemical weapons needs to be kept in place, and hardly anyone disputes that chemical weapons were used in a large scale in Syria against civilian populations”.
“We’ve looked at all the evidence, and we don’t believe the opposition possessed chemical weapons of that sort,” Barack Obama said.
He added he had concluded that the Syrian government carried out the chemical weapons attack.
“There need to be international consequences, so we are consulting with our allies,” he said.
There was “a prospect that chemical weapons could be directed at us – and we want to make sure that doesn’t happen”.
Opinion polls until now have shown very little interest among the US public in getting involved in the Syrian conflict.
In an open letter to the president, US House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner demanded he explain “the intended effect of military strikes”, and how he would prevent the intervention escalating, if he wanted to win public and congressional backing for action.
More than 110 members of Congress have signed a letter formally requesting that Barack Obama seek congressional approval for any action in Syria.
US officials are expected to give senior members of Congress a classified briefing on the evidence that the Syrian government carried out the alleged chemical attack on Thursday.
The US has said it will not take action alone – but one of its primary allies, the UK, has agreed to wait until UN inspectors report back before taking a parliamentary vote on potential action.
Russia rejected a UK push to try to agree a resolution on Syria among permanent UN Security Council members on Wednesday, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying the UN could not consider any draft resolution or proposed action in Syria before the UN weapons inspectors reported back.
The use of force without a sanction of the UN Security Council would be a “crude violation” of international law and “lead to the long-term destabilisation of the situation in the country and the region”, Sergei Lavrov has said.
The UK, US and France are continuing their discussions following the meeting of the five permanent members.
More than 100,000 people are estimated to have died since the conflict erupted in Syria in March 2011, and the conflict has produced at least 1.7 million refugees.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has condemned the fact that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its own people.
John Kerry said footage of the alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus was “real and compelling” and “undeniable”.
He said President Barack Obama was considering a response.
It comes hours after UN chemical weapons inspectors were fired on near the Syrian capital.
The team was dispatched to one of the five sites around Damascus where hundreds of people were reported to have been killed on August 21.
The Syrian government has denied launching any chemical attacks.
Secretary of State John Kerry has condemned the fact that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its own people
Russia, a key Syrian ally, has strongly warned against Western military action in Syria.
“What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality,” John Kerry said in a briefing for journalists on Monday.
The US administration had additional information about the attack that it would make public in the days ahead, he added.
John Kerry said the delay in allowing UN inspectors to the sites of the alleged chemical weapons attack were signs the Syrian government had something to hide.
“Attacking the area, shelling and systematically destroying evidence is not the behavior of a government that has nothing to hide. The regime’s belated decision to allow access is too late… to be credible,” John Kerry said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier told reporters the West had not been able to come up with any proof of chemical weapons use.
Sergei Lavrov was responding to suggestions from some Western countries that military action against the Syria government could be taken without a UN mandate.