Russian President, Vladimir Putin, said his country could give asylum to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad if he is forced to leave his country.
He said on Tuesday in Moscow that it was surely more difficult to grant Snowden former U.S. intelligence worker turned whistleblower, asylum in Russia than it would be in the case of Assad.
Putin said it was too early to say whether Russia would have to shelter al-Assad, whose country has disintegrated in a civil war that has lasted almost five years.
“First the Syrian population has to be able to vote, and then we will see if Assad would have to leave his country if he loses the election.
Putin admitted that he thinks al-Assad has “done much wrong over the course of this conflict”.
He stressed that the conflict would never have become so big if it had not been fueled from outside Syria with weapons, money and fighters.
Putin reiterated Russia’s position that it was supporting al-Assad, a longtime ally, in an effort to avert a failed state scenario like in Libya.
“We do not want Syria to end like Iraq or Libya.
“Look at Egypt one has to praise President Sisi for taking over the responsibility and power in an emergency situation, in order to stabilise the country,’’ he said.
He said Assad does not fight against his own population, regards to the al-Assad’s military bombing fellow Syrians.
He said instead, the military were fighting against those who took arms against the government.
“If the civil population is then also harmed, it is not Assad’s fault, but primarily the fault of the insurgents and their foreign supporters.
He, however, stressed once again that, it was not supposed to mean that everything was fine in Syria or that Assad was doing everything right.
Putin also said his country would “resist” NATO member, Turkey if the country threatens Russia’s national security.
He was referring to Turkey shooting down a Russian warplane in November on the accusation that the plane flew into Turkish territory.
“I very much hope that such events do not grow into large military conflicts.
“But if Russia’s interests and security are threatened, Russia will resist. Everyone needs to know that,” he said.
He added that, if Turkey attacks Russia, NATO does not need to get involved.
“Turkey is part of NATO, but it was not attacked.
“NATO therefore does not have to protect Turkey, and our problems with Turkey have nothing to do with the NATO membership of that country,’’ he said.
Putin said that the Turkish leadership had better apologise for shooting down the plane, which was clearly a war crime, instead of calling NATO’s headquarters.