Putin's remarks signalled no change in Russia's position on Syria. Moscow says it is not trying to prop up Assad but that his exit must not be a precondition for a negotiated resolution of a conflict that has killed more than 80,000 people so far.
"The country was ripe for serious changes, and the leadership should have felt that in time and started making changes. Then what is happening would not have happened," Putin said.
Pointing to violence in Iraq, Libya, Syria and other states, Putin said: "Why is this happening? Because certain people from outside think that if you shape the whole region under the same style, which some people like and some call democracy, then there will be peace and order. That is not so at all."