Russia rejects U.N. Syria draft


A Western-Arab draft United Nations Security Council resolution on Syria is unacceptable for Russia in its current form because it does not take Moscow’s position into account, Itar-Tass news agency quoted a senior Russian diplomat as saying on Friday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov’s remarks were the latest sign that Russia, a veto-wielding Security Council member, will push hard for changes in the draft, which supports the Arab League’s call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside.

The draft, which was expected to be distributed to the Security Council later on Friday, contains “no fundamental consideration of our position” and is missing “key aspects that are fundamental to us,” Itar-Tass quoted Gatilov as saying.

“The draft is unacceptable for us in this form,” he said.

Gatilov suggested Russia was unhappy that the draft included no clause ruling out military intervention, and that it made a reference to sanctions that have already been imposed on Syria by the Arab League.

Russia has warned it would not let any resolution endorsing military intervention pass in the Security Council, where it has veto power as a permanent member, and has also said it will not retroactively support Western or Arab sanctions on Syria.

Gatilov said Russia was concerned by a clause saying the Security Council would review Syria’s implementation of the resolution after 15 days and “adopt further measures” if it has not complied.

“What measures? That is our question,” he said.

Russia has urged Assad to implement reforms faster to end 10 months of bloodshed, but says his opponents share much of the blame for violence and has refused to join other nations calling for him to step down.

Russia has been increasingly isolated in its support for Assad’s government, and is still delivering Syria arms in defiance of U.S. calls for a moratorium on weapons sales to Damascus.

Russia joined China in October in vetoing a European-drafted Security Council resolution condemning Assad’s government for a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters that the United Nations says has killed more than 5,000 people, mostly civilians.

Gatilov said Russia’s own draft resolution, which it submitted last month and revised earlier this month, remained on the table, suggesting it must not be superseded by the Western-Arab draft.

Western diplomats have said Russia’s draft was too easy on Assad’s government.