Russia and the United States are essentially engaged in proxy war following President Barack Obama’s public decision to support, and arm, Syrian rebels bent on toppling the nation’s government.
The Russian government has slammed the U.S. for making the same mistake it did during the 1980’s, when arms were provided to al-Qaida fighters in the Mideast who later orchestrated terror attacks against Americans.
According to Bloomberg, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview in St. Petersburg, “Al-Qaeda was basically born from the Mujahedeen movement financed by the United States when the Soviets were in Afghanistan. Then al-Qaeda boomeranged.”
Via CBS News:
Lavrov was asked if Russia is warning the West in particular against providing the rebels with shoulder-fired air defense missiles that could challenge Assad’s air dominance. He replied: “We believe this is absolutely illegitimate, and we aren’t going to legitimize it by starting discussing some conditions on which these supplies could be justified.”
Putin, speaking to reporters after meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a business forum in St. Petersburg, argued that Western weapons, if they are supplied to the opposition, could fall into the hands of al-Qaida-linked militants who form part of the rebel force and eventually be used against the West.
Putin also warned that if Assad steps down, that could lead to the vacuum of power that would be quickly filled by al-Qaeda-connected rebels. “How can we avoid it? There are well-armed, and very aggressive,” he said.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to defend the U.S.’s actions which have been criticized by some Mideast and European heads of state on Saturday. The diplomat is currently on a tour of the Mideast.