Putin: Focus in Syria Should Be Fighting ISIS, Not Removing President Assad

Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared on CBS’s “60 Minutes” Sunday and told show host Charlie Rose that Russia does not plan on telling Syria who their leader should be, nor does Russia plan putting troops in Syria.

Rose asked the Russian president, “So you would like to join the United States in the fight against ISIS? That’s part of why you’re there. Others think that while that may be part of your goal, you’re trying to save the Assad administration because they’ve been losing ground and the war has not been going well for them. And you’re there to rescue them.”

Putin said he does not want to take down Assad and said that the only solution to the Syrian crisis is “strengthening the effective government structures and rendering them help in fighting terrorism.”

“We support the legitimate government of Syria. And it’s my deep belief that any actions to the contrary in order to destroy the legitimate government will create a situation which you can witness now in the other countries of the region or in other regions, for instance in Libya where all the state institutions are disintegrated. We see a similar situation in Iraq. And there is no other solution to the Syrian crisis than strengthening the effective government structures and rendering them help in fighting terrorism. But, at the same time, urging them to engage in positive dialogue with the rational opposition and conduct reform.”

“It’s only the Syrian people who are entitled to decide who should govern their country and how,” Putin said. “Russia will not participate in any troop operations in the territory of Syria or in any other states. Well, at least we don’t plan on it right now. But we are considering intensifying our work with both President Assad and with our partners in other countries.”

Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent


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