The following are statements made to the press on the situation on Syria, following a meeting between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel.
Vladimir Putin: We also exchanged opinions on the current situation in Syria and spoke for energising the negotiations within the Astana and Geneva formats. We believe that a solution to the Syrian issue can only be found by peaceful means and under the aegis of the United Nations.
Russia has drawn attention to the need for a thorough and comprehensive investigation into the incident of April 1 in Khan Shaykhun. We strongly condemn any use of chemical weapons. Those guilty of killing Syrian civilians must be found and punished, no question about that. However, a thorough and impartial investigation is required.
Mr President, you are considered the person who has the most influence with Bashar al-Assad. Is your influence with him as significant as they say? Or is your interest in winding down this horrible war not that great? Are you prepared to support security zones in Syria?
Vladimir Putin: We never interfere in the political affairs or the political processes of other countries. And we certainly do not want anyone to interfere in Russia’s political affairs either.
Syria. President al-Assad is mostly influenced by the Syrian people. The people are quite obviously divided and we are seeing big problems within Syrian society.
Our goal is to create conditions for unification, for the cessation of hostilities, for ending the mutual destruction and for political cooperation between all parties to the conflict.
What might these conditions be? First, a ceasefire. We achieved it with our Turkish and Iranian partners within the framework of the Astana process. We believe the ceasefire regime should be consolidated. In fact, our representatives in Astana will work on this tomorrow and the day after tomorrow together with the Syrian parties to the conflict. We will also maintain contact within the framework of the negotiating process in Geneva.
Needless to say, it is also impossible to resolve these problems without the participation of the United States. Therefore, we are, and will continue to be, in contact with our American partners.
I hope we will achieve understanding there concerning joint steps in this very important and sensitive area of global politics today.