Excerpt from joint press conference with David Cameron and Vladimir Putin on the eve of G8 summit

London, 16 June 2013

Question: First of all, to President Putin: the Prime Minister [David Cameron] has said in the past that those supporting President Assad have the blood of Syrian children on their hands. Given that Russia is arming one side in this conflict, is it not hypocritical to criticise those who want to arm the other side?

Vladimir Putin: With regards to the supplies of weapons to the Assad government, and as regards to who has the blood of the children and peaceful citizens of Syria, I believe you will not deny that the blood is on the hands of the both parties, of both of the parties, and there is always a question: who is to be blamed for that, who is to blame? I believe you will not deny the fact that one hardly should back those who kills their enemies and, you know, eats their organs and all that is filmed and shot. Do we want to support these people; do we want to supply arms to these people? So, in this case, it has hardly any relation to the communitarian and cultural values that Europe has been professing for centuries. In Russia, we cannot fancy such things happening.

But if we speak calmly in cold blood, in a business-like fashion, let me draw your attention to the fact that Russia supplies arms to the legitimate government of Syria in full compliance with the norms of international law. We are not breaching anything. Let me emphasise that; we are not breaching any rules and norms, and we call on all our partners to act in same fashion.

The Syrian issue will be the focus of discussions at the G8 Summit which opens tomorrow at Lough Erne (Northern Ireland). It will host the first meeting between the Russian and U.S. Presidents since the reelection of Barack Obama.