| World News | Saturday June 2 2012 15:47
Russian President Vladimir Putin has stood firm against growing pressure for sanctions against Syria.
As he met German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande on Friday, Putin said he saw emerging signs of a civil war.
In a joint press conference with Hollande, he said "sanctions hardly ever work in an efficient manner" and indicating that Bashar al-Assad's departure would not in itself resolve the crisis.
He said military intervention was not an option.
"Why are we thinking that if we push the current leadership from power, then tomorrow general wellbeing will begin there?" Putin said.
"What is happening in Libya? What is happening in Iraq? Has it become safer there?" he said. "We propose to act in an accurate, balanced manner at least in Syria."
Hollande kept up the pressure, however, insisting that Assad's departure was "a prerequisite for a political transition" and that "there must be sanctions" against his regime.
The two seemed to establish a good working rapport, however, as Putin, on his first foreign tour since returning to the Kremlin, met the newly elected French leader for the first time.
In Berlin, Putin had warned of the escalating danger from the Syrian conflict.
"Today we are seeing emerging elements of civil war," he said after arriving from Belarus. "It is extremely dangerous."
He hit back at suggestions Moscow was supplying weapons for use in the internal conflict, after the United States condemned Russian arms deliveries to Syria as "reprehensible".
"As far as arms supplies are concerned, Russia does not supply the weapons that could be used in a civil conflict," Putin told reporters.
Putin said Russia, Germany and their partners would do their utmost to stop the violence from escalating and help UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, who has brokered a peace plan for Syria, achieve "positive results".
"We both made clear that we are pushing for a political solution, that the Annan plan can be a starting point but that everything must be done in the United Nations Security Council to implement this plan," Merkel said.
Putin said Moscow was not taking sides in the deadly strife rocking Syria, where the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says 13,000 people have been killed since Assad's regime launched a brutal crackdown on the opposition in March last year.
Photo: Vladimir Putin (Getty Images)