MOSCOW — Russia's main concern in Syria is the fate of the country and not that of President Bashar al-Assad, President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.
He said Moscow wanted to ensure that any solution to the conflict in Syria must prevent the opposition and government forces just swapping roles and continuing to fight indefinitely.
"We are not concerned about the fate of Assad's regime. We understand what is going on there," Putin told his annual news conference. "We are worried about a different thing — what next?
"We simply don't want the current opposition, having become the authorities, to start fighting the people who are the current authorities and become the opposition — and [we don't want] this to go on forever," Putin said.
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