Syria has chemical weapons, claims Vladimir Putin, in order to counter Israel's nuclear threat. The Russian president raised this point in a discussion with Western leaders on Thursday.
After admitting that he could not be 100 per cent certain that the Syrian regime would disclose all information about its chemical weapons, Putin suggested that Israel does not need nuclear weapons because of its "technical supremacy" in other areas.
The Russian president said that he does not oppose a military strike on Syria because of perceived Russian interests there; in fact, he does not want to see an international organisation like the United Nations misused for such an action.
"We do not have some exclusive interests in Syria which we would seek to protect by defending the current government," he insisted. "We are striving to preserve the principles of international law."
Putin asked his counterparts in the West about the opposition rebels affiliated to Al-Qaeda. In the absence of any reply, he asked, "What sense does it make to launch a strike if you do not know how it will end?"
Blaming rebels for the use of chemical weapons, Putin claimed that there is "every reason" to believe that it was done as a provocation.