Russia opposes new UN draft on Syria
Moscow - Russia said on Friday it opposed an "unbalanced" UN draft resolution on the Syria crisis because it did not contain a call for a simultaneous halt in violence by the government and rebels.
"We cannot agree with the draft resolution in the form it is being presented in today. The text of the resolution under discussion is unbalanced," Interfax quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov as saying.
"Its main problem is the absence of a simultaneous call on all sides to take practical steps in the context of ceasing fire," Gatilov was quoted as saying.
Gatilov said Russia was receiving reports that the UN Security Council intended to put the US-backed resolution up for a vote at a meeting on Monday.
Russia, jointly with China, has vetoed two previous UN Security Council drafts on the nearly year-long Syrian crisis, and Gatilov warned world powers against rushing ahead with a new vote.
"It is unacceptable to tie the adoption of any text with a deadline. The time factor is not the most important thing," Gatilov said.
"The most important thing is to find a text that is realistic, without ambiguity, and aimed at a stable settlement," he said.
A resolution of the new draft obtained by AFP "demands" that the Syrian government "immediately" cease all violence and "calls" on opposition groups to "refrain from all violence" once these conditions are met.
The use of the word "calls" is pointedly weaker than the "demands" made to the Syrian government.
Gatilov's comments underline Russia's long-held view that the West was taking a biased approach to the crisis with the aim of ousting President Bashar Assad.
Russia has also accused the West of mulling its own military campaign against Assad after using Nato-led forces to eliminate the Libyan regime, another of Moscow's former regional allies.
Moscow's representative to the United Nations on Wednesday accused Libya of helping to train Syrian rebels.
Gatilov said Russia was still willing to work with the West on finding an acceptable compromise.
"The goal is the same - to find a text that contains equal demands on both sides," Gatilov said.
But he added in a separate statement posted on Twitter that Russia would oppose resolutions "containing any pretext for military action against this country".
Russia's firm stance comes amid Western fears of an even more aggressive tone coming from Moscow following Vladimir Putin's crushing win in this month's presidential elections.
Putin had battled with the West throughout his 2000-2008 presidency and led the campaign in Moscow against the air assault on Libya while serving as prime minister under outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev.