Russia made no commitment at last week's Group of Eight summit to back U.N. sanctions against Zimbabwe so it cannot be accused of a U-turn, a senior Russian diplomat said on Monday.
However, Moscow signaled it was concerned about the political crisis in Zimbabwe, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urging authorities there to prosecute those responsible for violence against opposition activists, the Reuters reported.
Russia and China last week vetoed a Western-backed U.N. Security Council resolution to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe. The United States said Moscow had gone back on an agreement days earlier at the G8 summit in Japan to support punitive measures.
"There was indeed a discussion on Zimbabwe at the (G8) summit," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak told a news conference.
"During the discussion ideas were put forward that the U.N. Security Council should adopt a resolution on sanctions. The sanctions were not named. There were such ideas. We listened to them and explained why that is not right.
"This does not mean that we do not have concerns about the situation in Zimbabwe. We have different methods for addressing it."
He rejected a comment by the top U.S. diplomat at the United Nations that Russia's performance on Zimbabwe "raises doubts about its reliability as a G8 partner."
Kislyak said: "Accusations against Russia that it is not a reliable partner are, we believe, not only unfounded but also irresponsible."
President Dmitry Medvedev said at a final news conference concluding the G8 summit that no decisions had been reached about how to act on Zimbabwe.
"The G8 expressed its concern," Medvedev said at the July 9 briefing. "But there were no concrete decisions about how the United Nations should proceed."