Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the attack on a UN humanitarian aid convoy near the city of Aleppo in Syria, which Washington blamed on Russia, was actually carried out by one of the terrorist groups present in the area.
Speaking at the ‘Russia Calling’ economic forum in Moscow, Putin said: “We see what’s happening. It’s just baseless accusations that Russia is the cause of all mortal sins. But we know who attacked this humanitarian convoy. This was one of the terrorist groups. And we know that the US is well aware of this. But they prefer to blame Russia. This won’t help”
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The aid convoy was attacked on the night of September 20. The International Committee of the Red Cross reported 20 civilians killed and 18 vehicles destroyed.
The Pentagon alleged that the convoy was destroyed from the air and that Russian warplanes were present in the area, concluding that it was a Russian strike that was responsible.
Russia denied the accusation and said a US drone was monitoring the convoy, so Washington should know the truth about the attack.
Putin also said that Russia was concerned that relations with the US had worsened. He said for things to improve between Moscow and Washington, the US should needed to start acting like an equal partner and respect Russia’s interests rather than try to dictate terms.
“We are concerned with the deterioration of Russian-American relations, but that was not our choice, we never wanted that. On the contrary, we want to have friendly relations with the US, a great country and a leading economy,” Putin said.
As an example of disrespect, Putin mentioned the way Russia had been dragged into the US presidential campaign. He said both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have used anti-Russian rhetoric to score political points.
“They made Russia a priority issue of the entire campaign. Everyone is talking about Russia. It may be flattering, but only partially. Because all participants of this process indulge in anti-Russian rhetoric and poison the relations between our states,” he said. “This is bad for both our countries and the international community.”
Another example is how Russia was accused by the US of meddling in the election through computer hacking.
“They caused this [anti-Russian] hysteria with a sole goal to distract the public from the essence of what the hackers leaked,” Putin said. “It’s basically a way of manipulating public opinion, but for some reason nobody discusses that. They only talk about who did it.”