MOSCOW – Russia is standingfirm on blocking anyU.N. sanctions against Syria, its longtime ally and a significant arms customer, saying that any resolution by the world body must exclude the possibility ofinternational military involvement such as in Libya.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday that U.N. approvalfor sanctions against Syriamirroring those by other nations would be “unfair andcounterproductive.”
The U.S., the European Union, the Arab League and Turkey have all introduced sanctions against Damascus in response to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s violentcrackdown on opponents. The uprising has left more than5,400 people dead, according to U.N. estimates.
The U.N. Security Council has been unable to agree on a resolution since the violence began in March because of strong opposition from Russia and China.
Russia, resistant to what it believes to be Western hegemony,characteristically opposesinterventionism and the imposition of sanctions. This week, it harshly criticized new European Union sanctions against Iran regarding its nuclear program.
Lavrov said Russia’s own draft of a U.N. resolution regarding Syria, which circulated earlier this month, remains on the table, and that Moscow is open for any”constructive proposals.” The draft calls on all parties to stop the
violence, citing the “disproportionate use of force by Syrian authorities” and urging the Syrian government “to put an end to suppression of those exercising their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.”
But Western diplomats said the Russian proposal falls short of their demand for a strong condemnation of the Syrianregime’s crackdown.
Lavrov affirmed that any U.N. resolution must say clearly it “couldn’t be interpreted to justify any foreign military interference in the Syrian crisis.”
“We believe that our approach is fair and well-balanced, unlike the attempts to pass one-sided resolutions that would condemn only one party and, by doing so, encourage another one to build up confrontation and take an uncompromising stance,” Lavrov said after talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. “We have seen that in Libya, and we will not allow repetition of the Libyan scenario.”
Russia abstained in the U.N. vote authorizing military intervention in Libya, but harshly criticized NATO for what it saw as an excessive use of force and civilian casualties during the NATO bombing campaign agains Moammar Gadhafi’s regime.
Rebels eventually overthrew Gadhafi with enormous military support from the Western alliance. NATO jets flew 26,000 sorties against Libya in 2011, destroying about 5,900 military targets.