MOSCOW – President Vladimir Putin has offered to send Russian troops to the Golan Heights to replace the Austrians who are withdrawing from the U.N. peacekeeping force that monitors the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces.
He adds that Russian troops would go "only if the regional powers show interest in our proposal and if the U.N. secretary-general asks us to do that."
Putin's offer on Friday was quickly shot down by Josephine Guerrero, a spokeswoman for the U.N. peacekeeping department. She says the disengagement agreement does not allow the participation of troops from a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.
Austria announced Thursday that it is withdrawing 377 U.N. peacekeepers from the Golan Heights after Syrian rebels briefly overran a crossing point near the border with Israel.