Kremlin: Russia still would veto Syria resolution with "ultimatums"

Arab World Materials 20 March 2012 15:46 (UTC +04:00)

Russia will veto any new United Nations resolution on Syria containing "ultimatums", even if they are recommended by former secretary general Kofi Annan, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday, dpa reported.

"Russia will not approve any declaration or resolution of the UN Security Council, if they contain ultimatums," Lavrov said at a Moscow press conference, according an Interfax news agency report.

The statement reiterated Russian opposition to any hint of military pressure upon the Syrian regime, a day after world powers had said that Russian calls for Syria to allow in humanitarian aid showed a shifting of its policy.

Russia has called for Damascus to allow international deliveries of humanitarian aid into Syria, and has called for an to end the fighting there, which has gone on for more than a year.

Annan visited Damascus on March 10 as a special envoy for the Arab League, and to gather information for recommendations to the UN on Syria.

Russia supports efforts by Annan and the Arab League to end fighting in Syria. But the basic Kremlin position opposing any international military intervention in the country has not changed, Lavrov said.

Annan's findings should be made public, he added.

Lavrov remarks came in the wake of Monday statement by US Department of State spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, who said Washington welcomed a recent "evolution" on Russia's position on Syria, referring to Russian demands for Syria to allow in humanitarian aid.

But the Russian foreign minister rejected the US' intimation the Kremlin's view on Syria had ever shifted, telling reporters: "I invite you to compare those statements that we made at the very beginning of the Syrian crisis with what we are saying now."

The Syrian opposition and the regime of President Bashar al-Assad are both responsible for ongoing violence in the country and they should stop fighting and decide the future form of Syria's government in talks, Lavrov said.

Russia is a longtime ally of Syria and al-Assad, and, since early February, has twice vetoed UN resolutions containing language that might make possible international sanctions against his regime.