Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a state-of-the nation address in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012. Putin delivered his first state-of-the nation address since winning a third term in March's election despite a wave of massive protests in Moscow. Putin has taken a tough course on dissent since his inauguration, with opposition activists arrested and introduction of laws that impose heavy fines on protesters.Putin said Wednesday that the government would focus on developing high-tech industries to make sure that Russia succeeds in global competition. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
MOSCOW (AP) -- Vladimir Putin says Russia realizes changes in Syria are needed but is concerned that the push to unseat President Bashar Assad's regime could plunge the country even deeper into violence.
The Russian president says that Moscow stands for a settlement that would "prevent the country from breakup and an endless civil war."
"Agreements based on a military victory can't be efficient," he said Thursday at his annual marathon news conference.
Russia has repeatedly said that its stance on the Syrian crisis is not aimed at propping up Assad.
"We are not preoccupied that much with the fate of the Assad regime; we realize what's going on there and that the family has been in power for 40 years," Putin said. "Undoubtedly, there is a call for changes."