Russia defies West on Iran, Syria crises

2012-01-18 20:13

Moscow - Russia on Wednesday insisted it would not back sanctions on Syria and accused the West of suffocating the Iranian economy as it warned against military intervention targeting either regime.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov indicated that Russia was prepared to wield its veto on the UN Security Council, as Moscow sharpens its foreign policy line ahead of Vladimir Putin's planned return to the Kremlin this year.

"For us, the red line is fairly clearly drawn. We will not support any sanctions" against Syria, Lavrov said, complaining that the West had already introduced measures against Damascus without consulting Russia or China.

His comments came as diplomats in Brussels said European Union foreign ministers are set to slap fresh sanctions on Syria next week, adding 22 individuals and eight companies to an existing blacklist.

Russia has irked the West with its position on Syria as forces loyal to Bashar Assad's regime press with a crackdown on protesters, in violence that the United Nations estimates has killed more than 5 000 people.

Moscow has insisted the Syrian opposition is as much to blame for the violence as the regime, a position it has tried to assert in a UN Security Council resolution that has received a cool Western reception.

Western criticism of Russia failed to take account of the actions of "the armed extremist opposition against administrative buildings, hospitals, schools, and the acts of terror that are being carried out," he said.

"Why do we need to stay silent about this? The approach of our Western partners is one-sided," Lavrov said.


Lavrov indicated that Russia would use its UN Security Council veto to block any proposals for military intervention in Syria, following a suggestion by Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to send in Arab troops.

"We will hardly be able to prevent [force] if someone really wants to do something like that. But let that be on their own initiative and rest on their conscience.

"They will not receive any mandate from the UN Security Council," he said.

He issued a similarly stern warning over the risks of a military attack on Iran over its nuclear drive - an option never ruled out by the West and Israel - which he said would be a catastrophe with the "severest consequences" for the Middle East.

"As for the chances of this catastrophe happening, you would have to ask those constantly mentioning it as an option that remains on the table," said Lavrov.

Lavrov noted that Russia had in the past backed UN sanctions against the Iranian nuclear and missile industries but said Moscow rejected sanctions targeting Iran's wider economy, a tactic now being adopted by the West.

He indicated that Russia suspected that a programme of Western economic sanctions were aimed at sparking discontent inside the country, which has now been run by an anti-US Islamic regime for over three decades.

"It is seriously aimed at suffocating the Iranian economy and the well-being of its people, probably in the hope of inciting discontent."

Russia arms to Damascus

Moscow's initial relations with the Islamic republic in the 1980s were tense but after the collapse of the collapse of the Soviet Union, ties warmed rapidly, based on common energy interests and a shared distrust of the West.

Meanwhile, Russia still maintains close ties with the secular regime in Damascus that were cultivated under Bashar al-Assad's father and strongman predecessor Hafez al-Assad.

Lavrov also defended Russia's right to trade with Syria, amid growing controversy over a mysterious shipment that reportedly delivered a Russian supply of arms to Damascus this month.

He described Russia's current foreign policy as being based on "pragmatism, openness and predictability" and indicated that its stance would not change after the March 4 presidential polls which Putin is expected to win.

"I think our partners abroad can count on the continuity of our foreign policy in the context of the upcoming presidential elections," Lavrov said.

Read more on:    un  |  bashar assad  |  sergei lavrov  |  russia  |  syria  |  uprisings  |  syria conflict

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Friday Grabouw - 11:32 AM
    Road name: N2 Eastbound
    DELAYS between Sir Lowrys Pass and Grabouw
  • Friday Cape Town - 10:14 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Canon EOS 600D

The Canon EOS 600D Digital Camera puts the widely respected...

From R5389.95

I'm shopping for:


Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.