Without a UN resolution supporting military action Putin said any US attack even though supported by allies would be illegal. Even though Obama cancelled a meeting with Putin, the Russian president expected to hold talks with the US president on the sidelines of the meeting. He said the two had much to discuss. Although Obama has obtained support from some key figures in the US Congress from both parties no votes have been taken as yet.
On Tuesday evening, members of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
agreed on a draft resolution approving the use of military force in Syria by Obama.
Putin made it clear that he is not at present convinced by the evidence presented by the US and France that Assad carried out the weapons attack. Reuters notes
without comment that Washington says the attack killed more than 1400 people. This seems to me a subtle way of suggesting that the figure is high. There is no citing others who put the toll in the hundreds. This is the way sophisticated propaganda works. Putin said:
"We have no data that those chemical substances - it is not yet clear whether it was chemical weapons or simply some harmful chemical substances - were used precisely by the official government army.According to current international law, only the United Nations Security Council can sanction the use of force against a sovereign state. Any other approaches, means, to justify the use of force against an independent and sovereign state, are inadmissible"
The Russian position
is somewhat altered from an earlier statement that said simply that Russia would not back a military strike on Syria. A Western official
is also said to have told reporters that many Russian officials believe that the Syrian regime was responsible for the chemical attack but would not publicly acknowledge it. This seems to be another bit of sophisticated propaganda in which western officials conveniently spread doubt about the Russian views.
The defensive missiles that Russia is to supply Syria have not yet arrived and even if they did it would take some time to set them up and train Syrians to operate the system. However Putin said:
"We have supplied separate components, but the whole delivery is not finalized; we have suspended it for now. But if we see steps being undertaken that would violate existing international norms, we will think how to move forward, including on deliveries of such sensitive weapons".
Putin said that Obama was a "no-nonsense practical person". Obama had said that Putin's slouch sometimes made him look "like the bored kid in the back of the classroom" but that his conversations with Putin were often constructive. Apparently Putin the kid is to look eager and attentive while listening to the no-nonsense US president. That president pulled out of a scheduled talk with Putin after Russia gave temporary asylum to the US whistle blower Edward Snowden. Putin said he still hoped to talk with Obama. There are reports that a senior Syrian forensic expert
has defected with evidence against Assad.