Russia’s legislature authorizes Putin to use military force in Syria
MOSCOW – The Russian legislature on Wednesday voted to give President Vladimir V. Putin authorization to use military force in Syria, where Putin deployed warplanes and battle tanks earlier this month and has called for an international coalition to battle the Islamic State.
At a closed-door session of the Federation Council, Russia’s highest body of parliament, senators voted unanimously to pass the resolution, Russian state news agencies reported.
The Kremlin said in a brief statement Wednesday morning that Putin had requested the right to use force in Syria “on the basis of universal principles and norms of international law.”
Sergei Ivanov, the Kremlin’s Chief of Staff, told the Interfax News Agency that the parliament had approved the use of Russian aviation, signaling that Russia could begin carrying out airstrikes in Syria soon.
Putin, asked at the United Nations in New York on Monday whether he would consider using airstrikes in Syria, said “we do not rule out anything but if we act, we will do it in strict compliance with the international law.”
The resolution appeared unexpectedly on the Federation Council’s agenda on Monday, where it was announced by speaker Valentina Matvienko at the beginning of the morning session, Russian state news agencies reported.
Putin’s government has a number of other military and diplomatic goals in Syria, including backing the government of Bashar al-Assad and emerging from international isolation following the Ukraine crisis.
The last time the Federation Council held a similar vote was in March 2014, when the legislative body voted unanimously to grant Putin the right to use military force in Ukraine.
At that time, Russian troops without identifying marks had appeared in Crimea (the peninsula was annexed by Russia several weeks later). Russia has never admitted sending its military into Ukraine, although Ukraine and the West have accused it of intervening on behalf of separatists in the country’s southeast.
The Federation Council repealed authorization to use the armed forces in Ukraine in June 2014 at Putin’s request.