Topic: Protests in Syria
Russian President Vladimir Putin talking to UN special envoy Kofi Annan© RIA Novosti. Mikhail Klementiev
MOSCOW, July 17 (Marc Bennetts, RIA Novosti)
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President Vladimir Putin gave little indication on Tuesday of a shift in Russia’s stance on the escalating Syria crisis, telling UN special envoy Kofi Annan only that the Kremlin continues to back his faltering peace plan.
“We will do everything in our power to support your efforts,” Putin told Annan ahead of Kremlin talks on the eve of a key United Nations vote on the violence-plagued Middle East state. “We have supported and continue to support your efforts to restore peace.”
"The Syria crisis is at a critical point," Annan said before the start of the closed talks, which he later described as positive and an important step toward bringing peace to Syria.
Annan arrived in Moscow on Monday on a two-day visit to the Russian capital in an attempt to persuade the Kremlin to support harsher measures against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s embattled regime at a UN vote on Wednesday.
Moscow is continuing to promote Annan’s six-point peace plan as the only way to bring an end to the spiral of violence in Syria, despite the failure of a ceasefire stipulated under the deal. Annan’s plan does not call for the departure of Assad - something Russia has said should be determined by “the Syrian people.”
Both Russia and China – veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council - have previously blocked UN resolutions that would have introduced tough sanctions against Syria over what Western powers say is the brutal suppression of a now 17-month revolt against Assad.
But Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after Tuesday's Kremlin talks that he saw no reason why Russia and Western powers could not come to "an agreement."
"We came to a tough compromise at the conference called by Annan in Geneva," Lavrov told journalists. "I see no reason why we cannot come to an agreement on a similar principles at the Security Council."
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France – agreed on June 30 in Geneva that a transitional government should be set up in Syria. The text of the document said this could include members of the government and opposition, although Russia later objected to U.S. suggestions that the deal ruled out any role for Assad.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon flew to China on Tuesday as part of a twin diplomatic effort to convince Moscow and Beijing to agree to drop their objections to a resolution that could see foreign military intervention in Syria. Putin vowed earlier this year not to allow a repeat of the “Libya scenario,” which saw the ouster and murder of long-time Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi after a NATO military campaign.
However, in a move interpreted as a possible change in the Kremlin’s position, a Russian arms trade official said last week Moscow would not sign new deals on weapons deliveries to Syria until peace was established. Russia has insisted its arms supplies to Syria have been of an exclusively “defensive” nature.
Lavrov also reiterated on Monday the Kremlin’s insistence that it has no special interest in seeing Assad remaining in power and dubbed calls for Moscow to persuade him to stand down “unrealistic.”
And a number of Russia-based analysts have suggested the Kremlin is attempting to distance itself from the Assad regime.
“Putin has already begun to change his position on Syria, but very carefully,” said Alexander Shumilin, head of Moscow's Center for the Greater Middle East Conflicts think-tank. “On a public level, the stance remains the same. But on a diplomatic level…there is a clear attempt to move closer to the West.”
“But Putin has fallen into a trap over Syria. He tried to use the Syria card in Russia’s disagreement over the NATO anti-missile shield in Europe and on Western support for the anti-Putin opposition,” Shumilin added. “But nothing worked out for him and he is now trying to distance himself from Assad, but still keep face. Russia has become too closely linked to Assad and is now bearing responsibility for his crimes.”
Government forces and pro-Assad militia have been accused by the United Nations and rights groups both in Syria and abroad of executing and torturing civilians. The International Red Cross said at the weekend that the conflict in Syria was now a “civil war,” officially obliging both sides to observe Geneva Conventions regulations on the non-targeting of civilians.
Russia has warned repeatedly that a full-scale war in Syria would be a “catastrophe” for the region and other Moscow-based analysts believe the West had no real appetite for an attack on Damascus.
“In the past, if the West has wanted to bomb countries, it has done, without waiting for permission from the United Nations,” said analyst Sergei Demidenko of the Moscow-based Institute of Strategic Studies and Analysis think-tank. “Look at Iraq, look at Afghanistan.”
“But the West realizes the problems that would arise after an attack on Syria. So Russia’s stance is very convenient for it, in this respect,” he added.
And Demidenko also said Western powers were taking Israel’s Syria policy of “the better the devil you know” into account.
“Israel says, “yes, Assad is bad. But what will replace him will be even worse,” he said.
As Putin and Annan met in Moscow, fighting continued to rage for a third straight day in the Syrian capital of Damascus. The hostilities are the heaviest in the capital since the start of the revolt.
The United Nations, quoting Syrian rights activists, says some 16,000 people have died in Syria since the start of the revolt.
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- moistFOX news on RIA, have you ever....19:43, 17/07/2012Please Marc Bennetts, tell me who funds your (highly influential i presume) "think-tank´s" you are referring to above and i would easily dismantle your argument that Russia (and thereby BRICS China + the rest of the free non-angloamerican world) is about to drop Syria (and by that of course Iran) to McDonalds & the Zionists.
While waiting for it i could tell in advance that your sources are domestically well known traitors on NED & Soros´es payroll. Case closed.
- pushkinlovSleaze20:49, 17/07/2012I would qualify Mr. Bennetts as a very sleaze journalist, selective in the notes and facts, and very bias in his reporting... but, who said that journalism is an objective profession (right Mr. Bennetts?) Once legislation is passed for accountability in foreign source payments in the media, Mr. Bennetts will have to disclose who pays him or who his godfather is.
- lmWaiting for Russia to sellout21:18, 17/07/2012Moist it is simple Western players are paying their stooges including some Russian think tank to say Russia is changing it stances on Syria.
Russia knows full well the West will make a mockery of Moscow if they caves in, Moscow cannot think because they gave a Russian base to NATO the West likes them.
- Nico(no title)21:32, 17/07/2012What is the point in sanctioning the Syrian Government and, ironically, threatening violence if the violence doesn't stop, other than to force "regime change"?
This isn't about a desire for peace. If it was then we'd see the arms flows to the rebels dry up and their safe havens in Turkey closed. We'd see pressure on the SNC to negotiate without preconditions. Where was the international condemnation of the SNC for refusing peace talks?
There are two parties to this conflict, which has now been termed a civil war by the ICRC. The rebels are now fair game. Imposing sanctions and the threat of force against the Syrian Government if it doesn't roll over and die at the hands of these armed gangs is preposterous.
Frankly, it's sickening that Russia and China are being blasted for preventing this "humanitarian" intervention from happening.
Long may their resistance to falling in line with US foreign policy goals continue.
- SirkoAmerican ImperialismLies...Lies...Subterfuge...Aggression and More LIes...23:12, 17/07/2012Excellent post Nico! The following quotation is an excellent point and buries any and all lying arguments that the western imperialists are not behind this mess and all the other mayhem in the Mid East. . "This isn't about a desire for peace. If it was then we'd see the arms flows to the rebels dry up and their safe havens in Turkey closed. We'd see pressure on the SNC to negotiate without preconditions. Where was the international condemnation of the SNC for refusing peace talks?
" You are absolutely correct. There are two parties to this conflict. The true free world against American imperialism.
- living069so who's next?09:32, 18/07/2012Does Russia or Mr.Putin really think the west will stop there?, next will be Iran, and on to Moscow, missile shields, the demonising of a democraticaly elected Russian president and so on, the signs are all there, if Syria goes down with their president then all is lost to the zionist led america.
- lmIf the common man in the streets can see why can't the Kremlin see also?15:20, 18/07/2012They have try to put pressure on China and Russia before, we all can see yet again the twin diplomatic attack one went to China and one went to Moscow then the attack happened in Damascus. They did not get their rewards so next is to try and kill off top Syrian civilian, military officers, and buy off Syrian Diplomats to try and show Russia and China the Assad is losing control of the country hoping to turn Russian and China mind set towards the West.
Russia knows full well the road is thru Syria to Russia starting with the Caucasus, there can be no second taught in the Kremlin that the West will spear Russia from it all, it’s only a matter of time before they turn towards Russia.
So Putin has to make sure that road stop dead in its tracks in Syria and if it means meeting it head on then Russia has no choice but to meet it head on before it comes to its door steps. It’s already in Russia’s back yard.
- mishkaKanieshna.19:01, 18/07/2012Yes you are certainly right. The picture can be seen well. But what can Kremlin does now? I wrote it before, the final stage and main target is Russia. But to attmept to dare a real armed confliction with the U.S. is like commiting suicide for Russia now. It can never counterbalance even to Turkey without a nuclear war. Dont forget Russia beggs Israel for technology transfer to produce UAVs and France for Mistral class carriers. Imports modest Italian light armoured IVECO cars. Russian Tigr military SUVs use American Cummins engines. Unfortunately Russia is playing a game which America is the refree. Soviet Union could challenge U.S. but it did not have condemns and doubts for sometihng like international credit rate, stock markets, WTO members, attrackting foreign investors etc. You can not be against the master of capitalists while you are capitalist. The west's operation started by Gorbachov 20 years ago. And he played a key role in their success. Since then Russia has lost all the allies in order and has had enemies like Georgia. To kill a Godfather, you should kill all his guards in order first.
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