MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry distanced itself on Friday from comments by its Middle East envoy, who was widely quoted a day earlier as saying that rebels in Syria may defeat the forces of President Bashar al-Assad, and said Russia’s insistence on a political solution to the Syrian crisis will never change.
“We have never changed our position and will not change it,” said the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aleksandr K. Lukashevich, at a briefing. He rejected a comment made by a State Department spokesman on Thursday that Moscow had “woken up” and changed its position as dynamics shifted on the battlefield, saying “we have never been asleep.”
Mr. Lukashevich said that Russia was not carrying out any discussions with the United States about Mr. Assad’s future, shooting down widespread speculation that Russia could help arrange the president’s safe passage out of Syria. He said he had restated Russia’s insistence on a negotiated solution “hundreds of times” in recent months.