Putin hints that Russia could grant asylum to Assad, sheltering him from Western retribution
Russia could grant asylum to Bashar al-Assad if he is forced to leave Syria, Vladimir Putin suggested in an interview with the German tabloid Bild.
The Russian president said it was premature to discuss asylum, but added that it would be easier to welcome the Syrian leader than the US whistleblower Edward Snowden, who was given asylum in Russia in 2013.
“It was surely more difficult to grant Snowden asylum in Russia than it would be in the case of Assad,” the Russian president said in an interview published on Tuesday.
“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 said.
Putin admitted that he thought Assad had “done much wrong over the course of this conflict.”
But he added “the conflict would never have become so big if it had not been fuelled by outside of Syria – with weapons, money and fighters”.
Putin reiterated Russia’s position that it supported Assad, a longtime ally, in an effort to prevent Syria from becoming an ungovernable failed state.
Russia began carrying out air strikes on the positions of Islamic State (Isis) fighters in September in support of Assad’s
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