Russia backs Syria ceasefire monitors

2012-03-13 17:56

Moscow - Russia said on Tuesday it will press Syria to accept international monitors who could observe the implementation of a "simultaneous" ceasefire between government troops and rebels.

But it also dismissed Western pressure to halt its weapons supplies to the conflict-torn country and stressed that the armed resistance bore equal blame for the mounting death toll.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia was discussing the monitors idea with Arab countries and at the United Nations amid efforts by Moscow to mute Western criticism of its refusal to condemn its long-standing ally.

"The objective is for both sides to understand that there is an independent observer watching how they meet demands - and we are definitely going to be making such demands - for an immediate ceasefire," he said.

"This must be simultaneous. We must not have a situation in which the government is required to leave the cities and villages while the armed groups are not made to do the same.

"This is unrealistic, not because we want the bloodshed to continue, but because the unilateral withdrawal of government forces is completely unrealistic," Lavrov said one day after attending a heated debate on Syria at the UN Security Council.

"The Syrian authorities will not go for that, whether we like it or not," Lavrov told reporters.

Russia came under strong pressure from the United States and European powers on Monday to force its Soviet-era ally to halt a year-long crackdown that a top UN official said has claimed more than 8 000 lives.

Russia defends arms sales

Lavrov has countered that Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces will continue to wage their campaign until Western and Arab governments with sway over the opposition can force the rebel forces to also lay down their arms.

Russia has jointly with China vetoed two past Security Council draft resolutions condemning Assad for the violence and has expressed reservations about a new US-backed version of the text now under discussion.

It has also angered Washington by dismissing calls to impose a moratorium on Syrian arms sales in line with Western states.

A bipartisan group of US senators on Monday sent a letter to Defence Secretary Leon Panetta calling on Washington to halt its military co-operation with Moscow over the Syria sales.

"US taxpayers should not be put in a position where they are indirectly subsidizing the mass murder of Syrian civilians," a copy of the letter posted on the Senate website says.

But a top Russian defence official defended the Syrian sales and gave no sign that Russia was preparing to halt them on account of the violence.

Experts in Syria

"There is no secret in the fact that we have good and firm military and technological ties with Syria," RIA Novosti quoted Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov as saying.

"And as of today, we see no basis for reviewing our agreements," he said.

Russia failed to disclose the size of its sales to Syria last year in its official report on 2011 arms deliveries, but the Senate letter to Panetta estimated the figure at around $1bn.

Antonov confirmed that Russia has military experts working in Syria who advise the government about the proper use of some of the more advanced technology it buys.

"If we supply tanks somewhere, we simultaneously also send in our technical specialists in order to teach our foreign colleagues about how this equipment should be used," he said.

But Antonov dismissed suggestions that Russia has special forces fighting in Syria alongside Assad's troops.

  • Fidel - 2012-03-13 18:02

    Good move by Russia and hopefully both parties accept a ceasefire, which will immediately put a stop to the killing by both sides. Hopefully all Syrians accept this proposal and look for a political solution to their problems.

      Fred - 2012-03-13 18:49

      The chances of that are virtually zero, so disconnected and selfish is the Russian regime, which unfortunately you continue to miss.

      Pierre - 2012-03-14 08:42

      Ah one eyed Fred and Anthony again. Blinded to the atrocities of the West, but eagle eyed on every indiscretion by Russia and China. How fast was the West at solving the Israeli-Palestine or Northern Ireland conflicts? I recently realized again the immense atrocities in Vietnam. When you judge Russia and China (even Syria) do you take into account the absolute indiscriminate slaughter in Vietnam? Vietnam claims 4 million civilian deaths, the US “only” 3 million total deaths. The point is the torture and killing by troops, napalm bombings of civilian areas and large scale poison pesticides far overshadow anything China and Russia have done in recent decades.

      Garth - 2012-03-14 09:10

      Fidel supporting oppressive regimes again. What do you say to this: `But it also dismissed Western pressure to halt its weapons supplies to the conflict-torn country and stressed that the armed resistance bore equal blame for the mounting death toll.' So, `we shall not stop our arming of the oppressors whilst the `armed resistance' is still resisting.' Good move by Russia?

      Fred - 2012-03-14 17:06

      Pierre, you continually use other events to diminish what's happening TODAY right under your nose. You're being stubborn and stupid. As for Russia and China, they have the worst human rights records of any countries on Earth. Tens of millions of their citizens killed by their governments, and only recently have they come out of one of thd most oppressive and corrupt forms of government in the history of humankind. Shows how much you know. Not much. Your perspective is unreliable and faulty. As for Vietnam, that was fifty years ago. It tore the US apart, and brought an abrupt end to an administration, as it should have. This is what happens in truer (not perfect) democracies. That you scour the past for things to negate effective action being taken today to help civilians and families being slaughtered in their homes, and support the dividing up of a united stand by Russua and China, shows further how out of touch and ineffective your understanding is of current international affairs and what is truly needed to help Syrians. A united stand across cultures and religions saying no more or else.

      Dorothy - 2012-03-15 08:44

      "Stubborn and stupid" to bring up history. These are the fools we have to deal with. "Tens of millions of their citizens killed by their governments". Oh Fred, where are your sources for this mighty number? It seems you have the right values but are being played like a fiddle by western propaganda.

      Fred - 2012-03-16 01:07

      Dorothy, research Stalin's Russia and Mao's Cultural Revolution. This excludes the communist era of both countries.

  • Anthony - 2012-03-13 18:47

    ONE BILLION US$ arms sales in one year (2011) to the BUTCHER, And Russian military experts/advisers in Syria. Russia is involved in this civil war, up to its neck !!!!!!!

      Fidel - 2012-03-13 21:10

      Obama's administration have recently signed a $30bn arms deal with Saudi Arabia, are still shipping arms to Bahrain. What is actually amazing to me is that the 5 five countries in the UNSC entrusted with maintaining world peace are the biggest arm dealers in the world.

      Anthony - 2012-03-13 22:40

      Totally crazy and unacceptable, The UNSC, must be overhauled !!!

      Fred - 2012-03-13 23:33

      Fidel, it's not accurate to try and lump the US, which wants true democratic principles and basic human rights for all, with the Russian and Chinese regimes that are autocratic. They're very different.

      Fidel - 2012-03-13 23:42

      By arming Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, your beloved US is seeking true democratic principles. The extent of indoctrination in the west is more complete than in Soviet Russia, at least the Russians knew they were being lied to all the time. Fred you are really delusional.

      Pierre - 2012-03-14 08:53

      Fred, so your point is you can kill and torture as long as you pretend to bring democracy? That argument in itself is flawed, but the bigger problem is that US democracy is mere pretence. They have only their own political motives in mind. Human rights are a weapon and not an end goal. For democracy, in the last 6 decades, the US instated more far right fascist dictators than anything else. Compare Pinochet in Chili and who do you think put Sadam Hussein in power in the first place?

      Fred - 2012-03-14 17:10

      No, the point is to support the strongest (not perfect) forces for good in our world, that have the greatest human rights available, which are entrenched in their constitutions. The two of you are weakening these forces, and strengthening those that are undermining effective action being taken with your blind stubbornness. That's about as stupid as one can be. All the while Syrians are being butchered.

  • Fred - 2012-03-13 18:48

    So boring and wrong. If I was Russian I would be outraged at this regime's insensitivity and plain stupidity. Of course Russian arm sales to Assad are booming.

      Anthony - 2012-03-13 22:15

      @Alexander, Ok Comrade, try to convince me , that Russia is trying to solve "this problem" I promise you, I will listen. But, I must first tell you, I got my doubts. Russia ( and Iran ) is the main supplier of military hardware to Syria. This is tanks, helicopters, rifles, guns, amunition, hand granades,rockets , etc, etc. Just about any country in the world that purchases this kind of stuff, does so, to use it against foreign armies. Syria uses it against its own people, opposition members of assad!!! In 2011, Russia sold to Syria one billion US$ worth of military hardware to Syria. Russia admits, it has military personnel in Syria== "advisers" Well these "advisers" are not teaching the Syrian army, how to work the indicator, on a tank. They are teaching them , how to hit a residential apartment block, with precision, like the one hit where Marie Colvin was working !!!!!, My judgement,, whose is responsible for almost 8000 deaths; 20 % assad, 10 % China, 10 % Iran and 60 % Russia !!! My education; Not important !! What is important, what values your parents put in you. They taught me, that if a leader is so weak, that he cannot talk to his oppostion, and instead murders them with snipers on rooftops,hand grenades, rockets fired from tanks etc, that leader is not fit to be a head of government !!!!! Besides, for the same reason, I don't read the Citizen , I don't read the Pravda, I prefer newspapers!!

      Fred - 2012-03-13 23:35

      Do you understand that the Russian regime rigged your last elections? And you would trust them? Clearly you're new to democracy. It doesn't work like that. :)

      Fred - 2012-03-14 08:30

      The independent observer mission declared the elections were not free and fair. This is recorded fact. Just Google it. The opposition is weak because Putin imprisoned some, and selected who could run against him. He made sure it was weak. This is why the independent observers came to the conclusion they did. Russians have to learn this is not democratic. I understand it's new to the country. But in 2012, with all the information available. You have to do better. He is bad for Russia. He is taking you backwards to the Soviet era, especially with his enabling of the inhuman Assad regime. You're associated with Assad now. How do you like that? You don't seem to mind. So you're part of the butchering of Syrian families. Russian arms are all over the place. The blood of innocent civilians is on your hands too now.

      Fred - 2012-03-14 17:24

      You're in denial, defending an indefensible autocratic, self-centered regime that is holding you and all Rusdians back, and making you pariahs in our world. The observers are vet clear about what happened, the slanting of the election process to favor Putin, the heavily slanted use of state media by Putin, exit polls that in some instances showed 50:50 electoral results, absolutely none showed the 64:36 results that were declared, the selection by Putin of his opposition and barring from running of others, detentions and imprisonments. Russia IS new to modern international affairs, and it shows. Why else is it aligned with China, another backward regime that had only recently come out of Communinism, in regard to Syria, when 134 countries out of the 151 on Earth know what needs to be done. Stand together as one, look Assad in the eye and say no more or else. The freer world has learnt this. Russia and China haven't. You haven't.

      Anthony - 2012-03-14 18:03

      What supporters of dictators are very good at, is confusing an issue. What have American and European arms sales to do with Syria?? The FACT is that Syria is swarmed by Russian arms sales, and as has now become clear, with Russian "advisers/experts. Russia has an economic interest in this civil war, like NO other country !!!!!! ""NO WAY. BECAUSE this justice lead to the distruction of country and death of thousands."" What are you talking about ?? Whole cities are in ruin, EIGHT THOUSAND SYRIANS MURDERED. Like in Egypt, like in Libya, 95 % of the killing will stop, as soon as this assad is gone. Have we learned ANYTHING from these uprisings ?? Even , if you are a Russian, which I am not so sure about, your comment is hollow....... I say it again RUSSIA IS INTO IT NECK, WITH THIS CIVIL WAR !! Shame on the West to have allowed this BUTCHER murder thousands of his opposition. And to hell with Russia !!!

  • Garth - 2012-03-14 09:18

    The constant hypocrital bickering is tiresome to read - on this forum that is. So-called liberals supporting oppressors; conservatives supporting terrorists. fidel, patrick and pierre ranged against fred and anthony. Then, alexander - a true Russian I might add, jumps into the mix. All arguing over what? Who is the biggest gunslinger? Who sells the most arms? Get together and create a board game - you'll coin it.

      Fred - 2012-03-14 17:26

      Out of the friction can come better understanding

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