Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed allegations of war crimes against Russia in Syria as political rhetoric. The alleged war crimes charges against Russia are for bombing the Syrian city of Aleppo.
Earlier in the week, French President François Hollande had said Russia could be charged with war crimes for its continuous airstrikes in Syria. Putin had canceled his scheduled visit to France following the comments.
Aleppo has been under bombardment by the joint Russian-Syrian forces ever since a U.S.-Russia ceasefire deal broke down in September.
Putin told France’s TF1 TV channel in an interview, “It’s political rhetoric that doesn’t make a lot of sense and doesn’t take account of the reality in Syria.” He added, “I am deeply convinced that it’s our Western partners, and especially the United States, that are responsible for the situation in the region in general and Syria in particular.”
Vladimir Putin has said Russia would pursue terrorists, even if they hid among the civilians. Putin insists the terrorists are blackmailing the entire world by using humans as shields. He said civilian deaths were the “sad reality of war.”
Putin also reiterated his earlier claims that the Western powers, and most of all, the U.S., were responsible for the present situation in Syria. Russia accuses the U.S. of secretly supporting Al- Qaeda-linked terrorists to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The U.S. has denied the claim.
Russia was further incited by Franco-Spanish UN Security Council resolution condemning the violence in Aleppo, which Russia vetoed. Russia claimed its considerations were not taken into account and accused France of carrying out the United States’ work.
Putin said, “They put forward the resolution knowing that it would not pass, in order to incite a veto, It was aimed at inflaming the situation and fanning hysteria around Russia.”
Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin has denied all the allegations against Russia. He said he hoped for a positive outcome of the talks, although there were differences among the international powers about the method of ending the Syrian crisis.
“If Civilian deaths in Syria were caused by his country’s bombing it would be a heavy burden on Russia’s psyche and soul,” Mr. Churkin said, as reported by BBC. Just like Putin he too regretted the civilian causalities in Syria.
The United States, France, and other Western countries have blamed Russia for civilian deaths in Syria. French President Hollande said, “These are people who today are the victims of war crimes. Those that commit these acts will have to face up to their responsibility, including in the ICC [International Criminal Court].”
Even if Russia agreed with the claims, it would be impossible to try Russia in the ICC as Russia is not a member of the International Criminal Court. Making matters even more complicated, Syria is not a member of the ICC either.
The center of the crisis in question is the city of Aleppo, which has been divided into East and West Aleppo, with rebels holding the east. There are more than 200,000 civilians living in the rebel-held Aleppo.
Joint Forces of Russia and Syria have bombed Syria after September 4 in order to retake the town after the truce brokered by Russia and the U.S. failed. The French strikes left close to 145 people dead in the last two days.
The Syrian army stated the strikes have resumed after a week’s break, which was provided for the civilians to escape the battle zone. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, in one week, about 840 people have been injured with one-third of them being children. Three hundred people have lost their life in the bombing.
Both the U.S. and Russia have agreed to resume talks on Syria, thus setting aside the blame game for the earlier failure. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and his U.S. counterpart, John Kerry, will meet on Saturday along with other key regional powers such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Iran.
With pictures of young children being caught in the crossfire and losing their lives due to the bombing surfacing daily, everyone involved wants to end the situation in Syria. The people of Syria hope the United States and Russia will find an amicable solution and end the Syrian crisis.
[Featured Image by Ivan Sekretarev / AP Images]