MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's Interfax news agency is quoting a top Kremlin official as saying the government could drop its support for Bashar Assad if the Syrian president reneges on his commitments to give up chemical weapons.
Interfax on Saturday quoted Sergei Ivanov, President Vladimir Putin's chief of staff, as saying Russia's position "could change" if it was "certain that Assad is cheating" on giving up chemical weapons.
Ivanov emphasized that he was speaking "theoretically and hypothetically." While speaking at a conference on Thursday, Putin said he was confident that Assad's government would be quick to comply. Russia has been the biggest international backer of the Assad regime and a long-time ally of Syria, continuing a history of cooperation and exchange from Soviet times.