Russian President Vladimir Putin urged a delay on U.S. military action in Syria and expressed skepticism of Obama administration assertions that the Syrian government had carried out a chemical weapons attack against its own people.
"In such conditions, to give a trump card to those who are calling for foreign military intervention is foolish nonsense," he said.
He went on to suggest, according to Reuters, that the attack was launched by rebels to draw other nations into the conflict.
"I am convinced that it [the chemical attack] is nothing more than a provocation by those who want to drag other countries into the Syrian conflict, and who want to win the support of powerful members of the international arena, especially the United States," Putin said, according to Reuters.
President Obama said on Friday he was considering limited military strikes on Syria as a response to a chemical weapons attack launched by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against his own people.
While Secretary of State John Kerry asserted Friday that the U.S. has "high confidence" in its intelligence on the attack, other nations — and many U.S. lawmakers — remain skeptical.
While French President Francois Hollande has said his country is “ready” to act, NATO members Great Britain, Italy and Canada have all weighed in against action.
Michael McFaul, U.S. ambassador to Russia, reportedly met on Saturday with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov to offer proof of the U.S. government's finding.
Putin said that if such evidence does exist, however, the U.S. should bring it to the U.N. Security Council.
"If it is not presented, that means it does not exist," he said.
He suggested also the upcoming meeting of the Group of 20 world powers in St. Petersburg next week might be a good forum to discuss the situation in Syria.
Putin said he was speaking to Obama as winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, rather than the U.S. president. And he cautioned that world powers should consider previous military engagements launched by the U.S. and what he characterized as their unsuccessful outcomes.
"We have to remember what has happened in the last decades, how many times the United States has been the initiator of armed conflict in different regions of the world," Putin said. "Did this resolve even one problem?"