Russia threatens to use UN veto against Syria sanctions

AFP , Wednesday 18 Jan 2012

Russian FM Sergei Lavrov says Moscow would use UN Security Council veto to block any proposals for military intervention in Syria

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov gestures during a news conference in Moscow
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gestures during a news conference in Moscow January 18, 2012(Photo:Reuters)

Russia, a permanent veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council, will reject any use of sanctions or deployment of troops over the unrest in Syria, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.

"For us, the red line is fairly clearly drawn. We will not support any sanctions," Lavrov told reporters, complaining that Western powers had already introduced measures against Damascus without consulting Russia or China.

Lavrov indicated that Russia would use its UN Security Council veto to block any proposals for military intervention in Syria, following a suggestion by Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani to send in Arab troops.

"We will hardly be able to prevent (force) if someone really wants to do something like that. But let that be on their own initiative and rest on their conscience.

"They will not receive any mandate from the UN Security Council," he said.

Russia has irked the West with its position on Syria as the crackdown by Bashar al-Assad's regime on protestors intensified. Moscow has insisted the Syrian opposition is as much to blame for the violence as the regime.

It has proposed its own resolution at the United Nations Security Council, condemning both sides for the unrest. But Western states have complained that it fails to hold Assad accountable.

Lavrov described the position of Western states over Syria as "one-sided."

Western criticism of Russia's resolution failed to take account of the actions of "the armed extremist opposition against administrative buildings, hospitals, schools, and the acts of terror that are being carried out," he said.

"Why do we need to stay silent about this? The approach of our Western partners is one-sided," he said, complaining the West also did not want the resolution to make clear it excluded the use of force.

Moscow still maintains close ties with the secular regime in Damascus that were cultivated under Bashar al-Assad's father and strongman predecessor Hafez Al-Assad.

Russia maintains a naval base in Syria in the port of Tartus and remains a key supplier of weapons to Damascus.

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