Maria Golovnina and William Schomberg
June 17, 2013
Western leaders criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin for supporting Syria’s Bashar al-Assad in his battle to crush a two-year-old uprising, setting the stage for what could be a difficult meeting of world leaders over Monday and Tuesday.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who chairs the G8 summit in Northern Ireland, acknowledged there was “a big difference” between the positions of Russia and the West on Syria. Moscow said it would not permit no-fly zones to be imposed over Syria.
U.S. President Barack Obama will meet Putin later on Monday and, in what could be a frosty encounter, will try to convince the Kremlin chief to bring Assad to the negotiating table. Putin has warned the West it risks sowing turmoil across the Middle East by arming the Syrian rebels.
Other Western leaders criticized Russia, Assad’s only big-power ally, for delivering arms to Assad while the rebels – whom Putin described on Sunday as cannibals who ate their enemies’ intestines – perished.