Ahead of a meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry (pictured) and his Russian counterpart in Geneva on Thursday to discuss Syria's chemical arsenal, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the US against launching a military intervention.
US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Thursday to discuss the details of a proposal to place Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal under international control.
The meeting comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin warned in a "New York Times" opinion column that a US military strike could trigger more terrorism. He also reaffirmed his stance that the chemical weapons attack at the heart of the international controversy was committed by rebels and not the Syrian government.
The high-stakes meeting could affect whether the United States pursues a threatened military strike against Syria in response to the government’s suspected use of chemical weapons on August 21 outside the capital Damascus, an attack that Washington says killed more than 1,400 people.
Putin wrote in his opinion piece that Syrian rebels probably launched the chemical weapons themselves to provoke a foreign intervention.
He warned that US military action could "unleash a new wave of terrorism" as well as intensify other regional and international conflicts.
"It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilise the Middle East and North Africa...” he wrote. "It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance."
Putin criticised the United States of pursuing a foreign policy based on “brute force” and intimidation.
“Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan 'You're either with us or against us'.”
Putin called his contribution to the paper as an opportunity to "speak directly to the American people and their political leaders”.
Russian officials said earlier this week that the proposal to bring Syria’s chemical stockpiles under international control would work only if the United States backed down on its threat of military action.
Russia’s four-point plan
The Russian daily “Kommersant” revealed details of Putin's four-step plan in its Thursday edition. Citing a Russian diplomatic source, the paper said the proposal called for Syria to join the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), reveal the locations of its chemical weapons stockpiles, allow the OPCW inspectors full access and permit the destruction of its arsenal.
Syria's opposition has denounced the plan as a delaying tactic and called for regime officials to be brought to justice.
US President Barack Obama said in a much-anticipated speech late on Tuesday that he had asked Congress to postpone a vote on authorising military force against Syria while his administration explores the Russian proposal.
Russia has been one of Syria’s most powerful allies over the course of its two-and-a-half-year crisis, which has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people. Russia has blocked three UN resolutions that would have imposed sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
Kerry is also expected to meet UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi while in Geneva, according to the State Department, which expects the talks to last at least two days.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
Date created : 2013-09-12