RUSSIAN president Vladimir Putin has questioned Australia’s role in the ongoing Syria conflict and asked Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who his country was actually fighting for.
During a meeting at the G20 in Hangzhou, Putin also listed the reasons why the US is to blame for the conflict in Iraq and said the west should have kept out of the region.
The exchange took place as the leaders discussed terrorism and Islamic State, the ABC revealed.
“I’m fighting for the legitimate Government of Syria,” Mr Putin said.
“Who are you fighting for?”
The Russian leader also warned that the US and Australia risked repeating mistakes made in Iraq by playing into the hands of Islamic extremists in Syria.
“George W Bush should never have unsettled the region,” Putin said of the US decision to invade Iraq and rid the country of Saddam Hussein.
Australia is assisting the US in the war on Islamic State but does not support the Assad Government.
Russia supports Assad in its fight against both IS and Syrian rebels.
The exchange between the two leaders come after Mr Turnbull said while the capacity of IS was “much less than they proclaim them to be” Australia needed to be very alert to the actions of lone wolves.
Commenting earlier this week on a call by IS to attack Australians “wherever you find them” in a newsletter called Rumiyah, Mr Turnbull highlighted the need for all leaders to focus on security.
The PM also said the need to share intelligence has never been greater, a point he has made with various leaders at both the G20 in China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Laos this week.
Meanwhile Russia and the United States — on opposite sides in the five-year conflict in Syria — have been trying to thrash out a deal in recent weeks to revive a ceasefire on the ground and co-ordinate strikes against the Islamic State group and other jihadists.
Putin held talks with US President Barack Obama earlier this week on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China, but the pair failed to bridge their differences.
Russia is flying a bombing campaign in support of strongman leader Bashar al-Assad, while the United States backs rebel groups fighting to oust him from power.
The Indian Telegraph Sydney Australia