Russia calls for end to 'ultimatums' against Syria
Russia on Tuesday urged an end to "ultimatums" against its Middle East ally Syria after the approval of Arab League sanctions and a call from Washington and the EU for an immediate end to violence.
"Right now, the most important thing is to stop acting by means of ultimatums and try to move toward political dialogue," news agencies quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying.
His comments came one day after the United States and the European Union issued a joint statement in Washington for "the Syrian government to end violence immediately."
Lavrov added that Russia's negative experience of NATO's air campaign in Libya made it unlikely that Moscow would back the imposition of an arms embargo against Syria.
"The periodic proposals that we hear on imposing a complete arms embargo on Syria -- I would say that they are fairly disingenuous," Lavrov said after meeting his Icelandic counterpart.
"We are going to view another embargo, this one against Syria, based on the experience that we gained from the Libyan example."
Russia backed the impositions of an arms embargo against the strongman regime of former Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi and abstained from a UN resolution that paved the way for military action against his regime.
Moscow then strongly criticised the course of the campaign and was particularly angered by an arms drop to Libyan opposition forces that was confirmed by France.
Russia accused NATO of breaking the spirit of the UN resolution by taking sides in the Libya conflict and openly backing the opposition.
Lavrov found fault with a report from UN investigators who on Monday accused Bashar al-Assad's regime of crimes against humanity that included the torture of children.
Russia's top diplomat contended that both sides were responsible for the violence and accused the armed opposition of provoking disorder.
"Armed people are treating civilians very severely," said Lavrov.
"But recently, more and more often, this concerns not so much the actions of the authorities, but of the armed groups that provoke disorder."
Lavrov pointed out that the findings of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria did not reflect the official position of the United Nations itself.
© 2011 AFP