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Russia denies it is switching support to Syrian rebels

December 15, 2012
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Source: London Independent

Russia denies that it has changed its position on Syria, despite remarks by a senior diplomat suggesting that a rebel victory is possible.

The remarks, made by the deputy Foreign Minister and Middle East Envoy Mikhail Bogdanov, were greeted by the US and its allies as a sign that Russia was edging away from its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but Russia now says that he was misinterpreted.

Mr Bogdanov touched off speculation about a possible change in the Russian stance by saying an insurgent military victory was conceivable, but had added that this would not happen for a long time and would ruin Syria.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said yesterday that Mr Bogdanov’s words had been misunderstood and taken out of context. It reiterated Moscow’s view that any resolution of the conflict in Syria must be political and not military, and that Mr Assad’s departure from power should not be a precondition. “We have never changed our position and we will not change it,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told a news conference in Moscow.

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