Russia can replace Austria in U.N. Golan monitoring force: Putin

MOSCOW Fri Jun 7, 2013 9:35am EDT

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during International Drug Enforcement Conference in Moscow June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during International Drug Enforcement Conference in Moscow June 5, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is ready to replace peacekeepers from Austria in the Golan Heights, President Vladimir Putin said on Friday, after Vienna said it would recall its troops from a U.N. monitoring force due to worsening fighting in Syria.

Austria, whose peacekeepers account for about 380 of the 1,000-strong U.N. force observing a four-decade-old ceasefire between Syria and Israel, said it would pull out after intense clashes between Syrian government forces and rebels on the border.

"Given the complicated situation in the Golan Heights, we could replace the leaving Austrian contingent in this region on the border between Israeli troops and the Syrian army," Putin said at a televised meeting with Russian military officers.

"But this will happen, of course, only if the regional powers show interest, and if the U.N. secretary general asks us to do so," he said.

Russia, a long-time ally and arms supplier to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has been trying along with Western powers to bring the warring sides in Syria together into talks on a solution to the more than two-year-old conflict.

The U.N. Security Council will meet on Friday to discuss the Austrian withdrawal after anti-Assad rebels briefly seized the crossing between Israel and Syria, sending U.N. staff scurrying to bunkers before Syrian soldiers managed to push them back.

(This story was refiled to amend time reference in lede paragraph to Friday)

(Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel, Editing by Thomas Grove/Mark Heinrich)

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Comments (10)
MudCow wrote:
The Austrian troops serve as watchdog for NATO and Russian troops are part of Assad’s forces, as no one trust Russia’s neutrality. Supply of arms is thus facilitated. Mayday for rebels ?

Jun 07, 2013 9:49am EDT  --  Report as abuse
AlfredReaud wrote:
So can the US, or the Brits, or France. What the game there, Putin, Cold War 2.0?

Ah, but I don’t think this time it will turn out like it did for his father. Even with your help. He had his chance, but preferred to see his country in rubble and send his countrymen to Hades rather than give up the throne. Thus it is…

Jun 07, 2013 10:16am EDT  --  Report as abuse
JamVee wrote:
The UN should take Putin up on that offer immediately. Russia’s volunteer participation in such peacekeeping efforts is long overdue, and should be welcomed with open arms.

After all, they are a world power, and they have a large and capable fighting force. They should be doing there part in these efforts.

Jun 07, 2013 10:26am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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