Russia denies searching for an Assad replacement
From left: Russian President Viladimir Putin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Putin met Erdogan for talks covering their opposing views on Syria. (AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC)
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Following speculation that they were looking to replace the current Syrian president, Russia officially denied reports that they are preparing for Bashar al-Assad to step down, Reuters reported on Sunday.
Russia, along with China, have been the lone voices of support for the Syrian regime at the UN Security Council. Most of the international community have sought to remove President Assad in order to curb the bloodshed in Syria, while Russia has continued to act as the Syrian government's main arms supplier.
News that the former superpower might be looking to change its position was seen as a serious blow to President Assad's support base. However, Russia explicitly denied the reports on Sunday.
"We are not holding any talks on the fate of Assad," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying by Itar-Tass news agency in Moscow. "All attempts to present the situation rather differently are shady."
Meanwhile, national radio station, 'The Voice of Russia', reported on Sunday that 'Russian experts' were considering military intervention into the Middle Eastern state. Viktor Nadein-Rayevsky, senior fellow of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of World Economy and International Relations, told the station that the intervention could be hidden behind a rebels offensive, allowing Russia to continue its support for the regime on the surface.