Russia will consider US military action against Syria without UN backing as "aggression"—and "we have our plans" if America goes ahead with a strike, Vladimir Putin warned last night in an interview with the AP and Russian state television. He added, however, that Russia "doesn't exclude" supporting a UN resolution authorizing strikes on Syria if it can be proven that the regime used poison gas on its own people, though he finds it "absolutely absurd" that Syria used gas at a time when its forces have "encircled the so-called rebels and are finishing them off." He compared the evidence of a chemical attack that has been presented so far to the false data the Bush administration used to justify invading Iraq.
More from the wide-ranging interview:
- On relations with President Obama: He "hasn't been elected by the American people in order to be pleasant to Russia," he said. "And your humble servant hasn't been elected by the people of Russia to be pleasant to someone, either. We work, we argue about some issues. We are human." Obama was supposed to meet Putin today ahead of the G20 summit in St. Petersburg but he canceled the visit amid tensions over Edward Snowden and is visiting Sweden today instead, Bloomberg reports.
- On Snowden: American agents "could have been more professional, and the diplomats as well," he said. "After they found out that he was flying to us, and that he was flying as a transit passenger, there was pressure from all sides ... instead of just letting him go to a country where they could operate easily."
- On gays in Russia: "I work with these people, I sometimes award them with state prizes or decorations for their achievements in various fields," he said. "We have absolutely normal relations, and I don't see anything out of the ordinary here. They say that Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was a homosexual. Truth be told, we don't love him because of that, but he was a great musician, and we all love his music."