By Mei Jingya, Sina English
Russian President Vladimir Putin is paying a previously delayed visit to Turkey.
At a press conference, Putin said in Istanbul following a three-hour meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Russia is not an advocate of the Syrian government. Putin said:
"We are not the pocket-protectors of the regime existing in Syria. I've said this many times before. We are not the lawyers of the acting Syrian leadership.
Our concern is different: what will happen in the future? We do not want to repeat the mistakes that were made, in our opinion, in recent past.
Let's recall how actively the Western community supported rebels in Libya. Who could imagine that the same people whom the West supported would take the situation to a tragedy - the murder of the Ambassador of the United States? Before you make a move, you should think what it may lead to."
It is worthy of note that the president has never said: "Russia does not support Bashar al-Assad." In fact, what Putin means is Russia is neither a lawyer, nor a judge to Assad.
Putin said that his country could not give any guarantees about the intentions of the Syrian leader. However, it does not stop Russia from maintaining "normal working relationship" with him. Turkey and Russia explicitly have opposite views about Syria.
"Our positions on Syria are the same but we have different ideas on how the future of Syria will be constructed. We are exchanging views with our Turkish friends. We have developed new ideas during our meeting with the Turkish premier on which we will work," said Putin.
Putin arrived in Turkey Monday amid tensions between Moscow and Ankara over the Syrian crisis.
"Syria is not in a position to use nuclear weapons," Putin told reporters, adding that "There are no nuclear weapons in Syria. They are not even close to make it."