Moscow’s support for Damascus ‘not unconditional,' Assad doesn’t follow Russia’s orders - Peskov
The assistance that Russia lends to the government of President Bashar Assad in resolving the Syrian crisis is “not unconditional,” Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov told AP, adding that Moscow cannot just make Assad follow its orders.
Russia and the Syrian government are engaged into “a relationship of cooperation, of exchange of views and full mutual support,” Peskov said, stressing that their relations are equitable and not hierarchical.
He admitted that Moscow’s support of Damascus is not unconditional by saying that "unconditional support is not possible in this current world," but stressed that "it is not correct to say that Moscow can convince Mr. Assad to do whatever is wanted in Moscow.”
“This is totally wrong,” he said, referring to any assumptions suggesting that Moscow can direct Damascus’ actions. Peskov’s remarks came just two days after a suspected chemical weapons incident claimed lives of dozens of people in the Syrian Idlib province.
The Russian president’s spokesman said that Russia expects a full international independent investigation to be conducted before the UN Security Council considers any resolution concerning the incident that he described as “very tragic.”
Doing otherwise would be "simply unfair in terms of international law," Peskov said.
The UN Security Council convened on Wednesday to discuss a draft resolution proposed by the US, the UK and France, which would condemn Damascus for the reported chemical weapons attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in the Idlib province on Tuesday morning.
During the meeting, the US hinted at taking its own action in Syria unless the UN Security Council moves to prevent the use of chemical weapons in the war-torn country.
Later on Wednesday, Russia introduced its own draft resolution on the investigation of the alleged chemical attack in Idlib to the UN Security Council in response to the resolution prepared by the US, UK and France. It also criticized the western-backed resolution for being unbalanced and jumping to conclusions.
In an interview with AP, Peskov complained that “there is a minor exchange of information going on" between Moscow and Washington about the situation on the ground in Syria, which is insufficient for productive cooperation.
He also expressed his hope that “the upcoming visit of Secretary of State Tillerson in Moscow will somehow highlight the attitude of the American side toward the rising tensions in Syria.” Rex Tillerson is scheduled to visit Moscow early next week.
In the meantime, Syria’s foreign minister dismissed allegations that the Syrian Army had deployed chemical weapons in the Idlib province and condemned the attack.
Earlier on Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed as “unsubstantiated” statements by US Vice-President Mike Pence that Moscow and Damascus had failed to fulfill their obligations under a landmark 2013 deal to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons arsenals.