MOSCOW, Sept 22 – Russian President Vladimir Putin wants the United States to protect aid convoys in Syria, German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said after meeting him in Moscow.
An air strike hit relief trucks near the city of Aleppo on Monday, shattering a ceasefire. The United States believes Russian aircraft are responsible but Moscow has denied involvement and the Russian Defence Ministry said on Wednesday a U.S. Predator drone was in the area when the convoy was attacked.
Gabriel, who spoke to Putin in private for around an hour on Wednesday, said the Russian leader denied any Russian involvement in the attack on the aid convoy and added that Putin signalled he was very interested in re-establishing the ceasefire.
It is Putin’s wish that “not only Russia is prepared to monitor these convoys with its own forces”, Gabriel said, adding that Putin was in favour of the United States doing so as well.
“That’s one of the big conflicts – that the Americans are not prepared to do that – at least not yet,” Gabriel said.
Gabriel urged the Russian leader to use his influence on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to bring about a de-escalation in Syria.
The United States believes two Russian aircraft attacked an aid convoy near Aleppo in a strike that shattered a one-week truce, U.S. officials said on Tuesday, but Russia denied involvement.
The Russian Defence Ministry said on Wednesday that a U.S. Predator drone was in the area where a U.N. aid convoy was partially destroyed in Syria on Monday and had appeared on the scene minutes before the incident.
Gabriel said he told Putin that Germany thought the Syrian army was involved in the attack.
“Of course we didn’t agree on that,” Gabriel said.