Russia on Wednesday rejected calls for a special UN Security Council meeting on Syria to condemn its crackdown on protesters, noting that the opposition was resorting to violence as well.
The comments by the Russian foreign ministry came amid mounting international pressure for the UN Security Council to respond to the crisis, with Britain leading efforts to get a resolution condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government.
Russia helped block last month's attempt by the Security Council to adopt a statement condemning the violence, and a source in the Russian foreign ministry said Moscow remained firmly opposed to any sanctions.
"The Security Council cannot discuss Syria. This is obvious," the foreign ministry official told the Interfax news agency.
Russia had previously called on both sides in Syria to begin negotiations and urged the ruling regime to press ahead with political reforms.
The Russian official also took the unusual step of criticising the protesters' actions in an apparent hardening of Moscow's position.
"The opposition there (in Syria) was never peaceful to begin with," the Russian official was quoted as saying.