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World situation chaotic, getting worse: Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with the country's agriculture minister in Moscow on April 9, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the world's current state of affairs is "chaotic" and will only keep exacerbating unless the international community opts for more constructive relations.

"Indeed, the current global situation cannot but cause concern," Putin said at a ceremony to receive credentials from foreign ambassadors in Moscow on Wednesday.

"The situation in the world is becoming more and more chaotic. Nevertheless, we do hope that common sense will eventually prevail and international relations will get back on constructive track and the entire global system will become more stable and predictable," he added.

Putin told the foreign envoys that Russia was ready to hear their constructive initiatives and use them as basis for better ties with other nations.

The Russian head of state made the comments amid rising speculation that the United States was gearing up to orchestrate a military strike against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, under the pretext that he carried out a gas attack against its own people in the Syrian town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, late on Saturday.

US President Donald Trump posted a fiery tweet earlier on Wednesday, in which he warned Russia -- one of Syria's key supporters in the war against foreign-backed militancy -- that it should get prepared to "shoot down" missiles that the US military would soon rain down over Syrian targets.

Syria has firmly denied any links to the attack, which reportedly killed at least 60 people and wounded more than 1,000 others. Russia says the number of casualties is not true.

Putin, Netanyahu talk Syria

Meanwhile, Putin discussed the situation in Syria over the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who authorized a deadly missile attack against Syria's T-4 airfield in Homs province earlier this week.

According to the Kremlin press service, Putin told Netanyahu that it was fundamentally important for everyone to respect Syria’s sovereignty.

He also urged the Israeli PM to refrain from any moves that would further destabilize the situation in the Arab country and endanger its security.

Russia avoids 'Twitter diplomacy'

In response to Trump's tweet, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said later on Wednesday that Moscow would steer clear from "Twitter-diplomacy" and rather engage in "serious approaches."

"We still firmly believe that it is important to abstain from taking steps, which may be detrimental to the already fragile situation (in Syria)," he said, repeating the Kremlin's position that the gas attack claims were "far-fetched and cannot excuse any use of force."

International investigation

Moscow and Damascus have called on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to investigate the attack and find the real perpetrators.

Russia’s OPCW envoy Alexander Shulgin said in a live interview on Wednesday that the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW was ready to send its experts to Syria at the end of the week.

"The Syrians promised to create all the necessary conditions for the experts’ work while we promised to take care of the experts’ security," he added.

White Helmets, the real perpetrators

Meanwhile, First Deputy Chief of the Russian General Staff’s Main Operations Department Lieutenant General Viktor Poznikhir blamed the attack on the White Helmets organization, a self-proclaimed civil defense group.

"On April 7, probably the last attempt to stage a chemical weapons attack in Eastern Ghouta was made. The notorious White Helmets, who operate as part of terrorist groups, staged and filmed a chemical weapons attack on civilians in the town of Douma," Poznikhir told reporters.

He said the militants had carried out similar provocations in the past but never succeeded.

"For instance, on March 3 the militants’ workshop was found in an underground tunnel in Hazrama. Makeshift ammunition pieces were charged with poisonous agents there," he said.

The White Helmets were among the first NGOs that reported the supposed gas attack to the media and even claimed that the chemical agent used was chlorine.

At the time, Moscow rejected the report as fake news, noting that the White Helmets were notorious for spreading falsehoods.

WHO's claims of chemical exposure not true

Poznikhir also criticized reports by the World Health Organization (WHO) that about 500 people were allegedly harmed by toxic chemicals sarin and chlorine in Douma, stating that Russian medical teams and chemical experts in the area had yet to encounter any such cases.

"None of them has any confirmation of what the World Health Organization official said," Poznikhir stated, inviting WHO experts to tour the region under security provided by the Russian military.

Russia to deploy military police in Douma

The Russian commander announced that Moscow was going to deploy military police forces to Douma in order to maintain the town's security.

"As of tomorrow, Russian military police units will be deployed to the city of Douma to ensure security, maintain law and order and arrange assistance to the local population," he said.

Currently, the United Nations and the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Warring Parties are providing necessary humanitarian assistance to the residents of Eastern Ghouta.

Russia monitoring US Navy in Persian Gulf

Poznikhir also discussed the US Navy's deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf region and said the movement was being closely monitored.

"We are aware that the US carrier battle group led by the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman and escorting ships are heading to the Persian Gulf and are scheduled to arrive in about early May," he said. "That is an established practice of US Navy’s presence in the region."

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