Putin's Press Secretary Dmitri Peskov, speaking in an October 22 interview on Russia 1 TV, said that Assad should stay in power in Syria and warned that otherwise, there would be "new waves of refugees" and "new truck [attacks] in Cannes."
Following are excerpts
Interviewer: I am probably expressing a seditious though when I say: Perhaps Russia should just stop? I mean, we've got what we wanted - the naval base in Tartus is secure, the new airbase is operational, and the geopolitical goals of Russia have been achieved. Why should Russia be involved in the internal Syrian conflict resolution? Syria may be doomed to fall apart into different entities. Let's just determine which part is loyal to us and defend it. At least there is talk about this.
Dmitri Peskov: The temporary [military] bases are not goals in and of themselves. They are a means toward an end. The goal was declared by the president from the very beginning: to assist the legitimate Syrian authorities in their fight against terrorism. The territory of Syria should be liberated, and everything possible should be done to prevent the partitioning of Syria, as this might lead to the most catastrophic consequences for the entire region.
Interviewer: How long will the [situation] in Syria continue?
Dmitri Peskov: I would certainly like to be optimistic, and to say that we can see an end in the foreseeable future, but unfortunately, the information that we are getting does not let us be such carefree optimists. One way or another, the Syrian should be resolved, and the only way to resolve it is through multilateral cooperation. Thus, our positions should become closer. Some countries are trying to play games with Satan, by attempting to get rid of Assad by means of terrorists. Others - without giving it careful thought - simply say that Assad must go.
Having said that, those countries keep a shamefaced silence, when they are asked: "what's next?" We have two choices: Either Assad will rule in Damascus, or else the Nusra Front will rule in Damascus. There is no third possibility. In order for the political resolution to begin, Assad should remain in Damascus. In this context, therefore, it is hard to underestimate the role of the operation that Russia conducts there. If Damascus fall and the terrorists come to power, there will be no political resolution. If the terrorists come to power, they will not obey any master or puppeteer. Tis will lead to new waves of refugees, new truck [attacks] in Cannes, and stuff like that, God forbid.