Russia slams 'unacceptable' UN Syria resolution
Russia on Tuesday called the latest draft of a UN Security Council resolution condemning the Syrian crackdown "unacceptable" despite last-minute changes that removed a direct reference to sanctions.
"The text that Western nations are planning to put up for a vote is clearly unacceptable," Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told the Interfax news agency.
European nations were expected to seek a vote later Tuesday on a resolution imposing "targeted measures" against President Bashar al-Assad's regime for a crackdown that has killed 2,700 according to UN estimates.
Russia had initially proposed its own resolution that simply called for more dialogue and then began pressing Western powers to water down the language in their draft.
The current proposal would impose sanctions if Assad failed to comply within 30 days with instructions to end violence and impose reforms.
Russia had remained largely silent on the West's latest proposal and European negotiators had indicated before Gatilov's comments that they would be pushing for a Tuesday vote.
But the Russian foreign ministry official made clear that Moscow still found the threat of sanctions against Assad too strong to support the measure.
"It is unacceptable because it keeps the prospect of imposing sanctions on Syria," Gatilov said.
But Gatilov's language carefully avoided the mention of Russia using its right to veto the resolution -- a possibility that it often raises during talks but rarely resorts to in practice.
"We find this text impossible to support," Gatilov said at one stage of the Interfax interview.
Russia has treated the unrest gripping its old regional ally as an internal matter that could only be exacerbated by Western military intervention or sanctions targeting Assad at the expense of the opposition.
Gatilov expressed particular regret that the European draft "lacks a provision on non-interference in the affairs (of another nation) and the inadmissibility of outside intervention."
The deputy foreign minister also repeated Russia's preference for a resolution that placed equal pressure on the two sides to engage in direct talks.
"Unfortunately, quite a few things there do not suit us and not all of our complaints were taken into account," said Gatilov.
The Europeans and Russia fundamentally disagree over whether the opposition violence in Syria should be given the same weight as the government crackdown.
Europe insists that any resolution should put more stress on Assad's action.
But Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has linked some in the opposition to "terrorists" who threaten to destabilise much of the Middle East.
© 2011 AFP