Russia Opposes 'Any U.N. Resolution' on Syria
Russia on Thursday said it opposed the U.N. Security Council adopting any resolution on Syria, risking a major dispute with the West over the response to the crackdown on Syrian protestors.
"Russia is against any resolution of the U.N. Security Council on Syria and this has been stated more than once at presidential level," foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told reporters.
"The situation in this country, in our opinion, does not pose a threat to international peace and security," he said, quoted by Russian state media.
Britain and France have drawn up a new resolution which demands that President Bashar al-Assad end violence against the opposition and lift the siege of protesting cities. It also calls for an arms embargo on Syria.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday sternly warned Russia and China against blocking the resolution: "If anyone votes against that resolution, or tries to veto it, that should be on their conscience," he said.
Human rights groups says more than 1,100 people have been killed throughout the country since the opposition protests against the Assad regime erupted in mid-March.
But Lukashevich insisted the situation in Syria was "best dealt with by the Syrians themselves" and that even discussing the resolution at the Security Council could be dangerous.
"The discussion of an anti-Syrian resolution at the Security Council could lead to an even greater escalation of domestic tensions," he said.
The spokesman acknowledged that the situation in Syria remained tense, but appeared to blame this on actions by extremists rather than the regime itself.
"We need to give time for the realization of steps for reform," he said.
In a move hailed as a landmark moment in its relations with the West, Russia in March abstained on the U.N. resolution that authorized air strikes in Libya, essentially allowing the campaign to go ahead.
But Russian officials have since said they have felt betrayed by the manner in which the air campaign was carried out and warned the West not to expect such support for resolutions in the future.
President Dmitry Medvedev said last month that Assad should "switch from words to actions" and conduct "real democratic reforms" but Russian officials have also warned against comparisons with Moammar Gadhafi's Libyan regime.
Russia has long been considered an ally of Damascus as well as a major arms supplier and Moscow has warned the West not to side with the opposition in the standoff with the Assad regime.