End of EU’s Syria arms embargo ‘directly harms’ peace prospects: Russia
Russia said on Tuesday that the European Union's decision to lift its embargo against arming Syrian rebels but not the regime will "directly harm" the prospects of holding a peace conference on the crisis.
“This directly harms the prospects of convening an international conference,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by the ITAR-TASS news agency.
The European Union agreed to lift its embargo on arming the opposition after much debate and a strong push for the measure by France and Britain.
A French official in Paris stressed that this was a “theoretical” lifting of the embargo that would not go into effect until August 1 at the earliest because the EU did not want to hurt the peace talks promoted by Moscow and Washington.
The proposed “Geneva 2” meeting is expected to happen some time next month after US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed in May to try and bring the warring sides together at conference.
Ryabkov said that Russia was “disappointed” by the European Union’s decision.
“We are disappointed that decisions are being reached that not only fail to promote a political solution… but which contradict the policies conducted by the European Union itself,” he was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS.
He further accused the 27-nation bloc of setting “double standards” by lifting the embargo against the opposition but not Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s troops.