Russian President Vladimir Putin is shown here inaugurating the second day of the just-concluded G20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. Putin vowed Friday to come to the assistance of close Middle Eastern ally Syria if the United States retaliates militarily for Damascus' alleged chemical weapons attack last month. EFE
St Petersburg, Russia, Sep 6 (EFE).- Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed Friday to come to the assistance of close Middle Eastern ally Syria if the United States retaliates militarily for Damascus' alleged chemical weapons attack last month.
"Will we help Syria? We will," Putin said at the final press conference of the just-concluded G20 summit in this western city.
"We are helping them now. We supply weapons, we cooperate in the economic sphere, and I hope we will cooperate more in the humanitarian sphere ... to provide help for those people - civilians - who are in a difficult situation today," the Russian leader said.
Putin added that U.S. plans to launch a "limited" attack against Syria had the backing of just five G20 countries.
In fact, representatives from 11 nations who participated in the G20 talks released a joint statement condemning the alleged chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government.
Putin, however, mentioned only France, Canada, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Britain, and noted that the British Parliament, heeding "the will of the people," rejected military action against the Arab country.
Even among the countries that support military action against Damascus, public opinion is strongly opposed those plans, the Russian leader noted.
Pope Francis also has expressed his opposition to Western intervention in Syria, he said.
Putin warned that military action against Syria would severely hinder efforts to resolve the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula.
"How would you convince the North Koreans, for example, to give up their nuclear program," he said. "Just tell them to put everything into storage today and they'll be pulled to bits tomorrow."
The United States and Syria's opposition say President Bashar al-Assad's forces killed more than 1,400 people on Aug. 21 in a chemical weapons attack near Damascus, an accusation vehemently denied by the Syrian government.
Syria's civil war has claimed some 100,000 lives since March 2011.