In a development that may delay U.S. plans to conduct a surgical military strike on the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, Russia has today offered to take all of its ally’s chemical weapons stocks and put them somewhere “more secure,” like Georgia.
In an interview with CBS News earlier today, President Assad extended an open hand to those threatening him with military action, saying that his regime was willing to cooperate with the international community in ensuring a “swift and transparent handover” of weapons to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin, speaking to media about the proposal today, said he was reluctant to take Syria’s stockpile of hundreds of tonnes of chemical weapons, but that Russia would do it for “the good of the international community.”
“Obviously no country – and certainly not Russia – would want to deliberately seek out weapons of mass annihilation that could cause unspeakable catastrophe if used improperly, or at all,” said Putin. “But in the interests of preventing a costly military confrontation – something that Russia, throughout its history, has always tried to avoid – we will, just this once, acquire an unnecessarily large amount of dangerous material.”
Asked how many of Syria’s weapons Russia would be willing to acquire, Putin replied “All of them.”
He also appeared to reject calls from the United States to destroy the weapons once they were removed from Syrian hands, saying that it would be premature to destroy something that may be needed in future, perhaps as early as next week.
Putin assured reporters that all weapons stockpiles would be kept somewhere “really safe,” such as “a big hole,” or the gay community.