On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin received thanks from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for standing against Western military action based on a chemical attack in Damascus several weeks ago. Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Muallem said he spoke with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov about a possible American strike. Muallem told Lavrov, “The president asked me to pass on his thanks to Putin for his position during and after the G20 summit.” Lavrov said that Putin’s position on Syria was “well known and not subject to changes.” He added, “There is no alternative to a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria,” and said there would be no “military solution involving outside intervention.”
Russia has opposed the US’ Syrian policy, stating that the US has provided no evidence that Assad directly ordered the chemical weapons strike. Muallem said that if the US acted in Syria, Syria would not participate in peace talks: “Right up to now we are ready (to take part). But I do not know what could happen after an American aggression. It’s possible the rockets will land and wreck this conference.”
Putin met with President Obama during the G20 summit, but left unmoved by Obama’s pleas for action. “He disagrees with my arguments,” Putin said. “I disagree with his arguments.” The G20 was held on Putin’s home ground in St. Petersburg. Several of the countries in the European Union originally expressed support for military action against Syria, but have backed off in the face of popular disapproval.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).