Russia has accused the United States of blocking a U.N. Security Council statement condemning a deadly car bomb attack in Damascus.
Reports say Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said US has disappointed Moscow by blocking a statement condemning “terrorist attacks” near the Russian embassy in Damascus that killed scores of civilians.
US denies accusations
US Spokesperson Erin Pelton on Syria today clarified that the Russian UN Mission’s assertion that the United States blocked a draft UN Security Council press statement yesterday condemning the car bombing in Damascus is false.
In fact, Ms. Perlton asserts that the United States accepted all elements of the Russian draft statement and merely requested the addition of language concerning the regime’s brutal attacks against the Syrian people.
“Unfortunately, if predictably, Russia rejected the U.S. suggested language as “totally unacceptable” and withdrew its draft statement.” – Ms. Pelton
According to Ms. Pelton, the language Russia rejected is:
“The members of the Security Council also condemned the Syrian government’s continued, indiscriminate use of heavy weaponry against civilians, including its February 18 launch of ballistic missiles in residential areas of Aleppo and February 21 airstrikes that hit a field hospital in Dera’a. The members of the Security Council called upon all sides of the conflict to respect international law.”
She says the United States condemns all terrorist attacks against civilians and diplomatic facilities.
However, Ms. Pelton points out that it is unacceptable to the United States that the UN Security Council not also express its outrage at the heinous, sustained attacks on innocent civilians that the Syrian regime continues to launch on a daily basis.
Is Russia Blocking Meaningful Action on Syrian Crisis?
With the turmoil continue to engulf Syria, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the Russians were unwilling to go forward to end the crisis in Syria.
In an interview with Michele Kelemen of NPR, Secretary Clinon said she hammered out an agreement in Geneva last summer, largely negotiating with Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia to resolve the Syrian crisis.
Ms. Clinton said the Russians were unwilling to go forward to end the turmoil of the country.
The US had made it a position that the American government would not open the door to military action, but it wanted to take political action, economic action through the Security Council.
However, the Russians sided with Assad who knew that if they were able to implement the Geneva agreement that they had negotiated, that that would send a very clear signal that Assad was being isolated even further a signal to those around him, a signal to his troops, a signal to the region.
US Actions on Syrian Crisis
The United States has done a great deal in resolving the Syrian crisis.
The US is responsible for driving through sanctions against Assad that have really limited his capacity to replenish his coffers and to provide funding needed to keep his military machine going.
In addition, the US has helped to stand up an opposition that was notably absent in the beginning of this conflict.
The US also has become the biggest provider of humanitarian assistance.
She points out that there is a lot of concern, not just by the United States but by other countries as well.
The US is certainly not alone in being cautious about what more it can do without causing more death and more destruction, and the unintended consequences of helping to foment an even more deadly civil war.
However, no one is in any way satisfied with what the United States or the entire world community has done, which is why it keep pressing for UN action and keep being disappointed and blocked by the Russians.
In June 2012, amid the turmoil engulfing Syria, speculations began to surface that ties are strained as US and Russia disagee over the path forward to end crisis in Syria.
Secretary Clinton has stressed that the US government has made it clear to the Russians that the outcome they are most concerned about, which would be a sectarian civil war, is made more likely, not less likely, by the international community’s failure to take a strong position vis-A -vis the Assad regime.
Reports say Russia is still refusing to condemn the war crimes committed by the Syrian regime.
In October, Russia and China vetoed a draft resolution that would have condemned the Assad regime. Russia opposed to the establishment of safe no-fly zones which means that Russia is explicitly supporting the war-crimes committed by the regime.
Media reports say Sergei Lavrov the Russian Foreign Minister blamed the opposition.
Reports say that Russia is deploying naval military ships in the Mediterranean in an apparent gesture of support for the Assad’s regime.
Some analysts reportedly believe that Russia is worried about its heavy investments in Syria. Russia reportedly invested $30 billion in energy and tourism infrastructure and it has a naval base in the Syrian coastal city of Tartous. Reports say Russia fears that one day the international community might act against one of its client states in the old Soviet Union.
U.S.-Russia relations are often an uneasy mix of competition and cooperation.
US has real and continuing differences with Russia. While it may be tempting to downplay Russia’s importance, the United States simply does not have that luxury.
As a permanent member of the UN Security Council; as one of the world’s largest nuclear powers; and as the world’s single largest producer of hydrocarbons, Russia’s strategic importance to the U.S. will matter for many years to come.
More than 60,000 Syrians have been killed since March 2011, and hundreds of thousands have been displaced from their homes.