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.

  • Graziella - 2012-01-18 20:25

    The West demonstrated in Libya that they cannot be trusted because of the way they persuaded Russia and China to back a resolution on a "No-Fly Zone" and promptly proceeded to abuse that resolution to justify their own agenda of regime change and effectively acting as the air force for one side in a civil war. This is what happens when there is not trust...

      Jaba - 2012-01-18 23:59

      Lavrov: worried by Iranian`s comfort not by Syrian`s lives The hypocrisy of the Russian politics & its disregard for human rights hidden behind the fake concern about the effect of sanctions on the standard of living of the Iranians is so patent. It supports the two dictatorships of the Middle East which rank among the worst in terms of cruelty to their own people & in terms of risk to the Middle East security, It tries to make us believe that through soft touch negociations you can ever get any true reliable concession from a fanatical regime like Iran's or from the deeply corrupt Mafia family terrorizing Syria. Russians still deal foreign affairs in the same manner as Staline with Hitler, hoping to redirect the fuher`s territorial ambitions against the West instead of the East. But cuddling to dictators is often resulting in a boomerang effect. The russian leadership is really despicable & a long term disaster for its country.

      Dayaan - 2012-01-19 00:25

      @Jaba you are talking about Russian hypocrisy but what about Western US Israeli hypocrisy they supported dictators such as the Shah of Iran who waged a war against his own people and lets not forget about the support they gave to the other dictator Saddam Hussein until he was no longer usefull to them. Then there are Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt all dictators. There are many other dictators in our recent past history that was murdering their own people that had the full support of the hypocritical West. Currently there is the dictators in Bahrain the US as a big Naval Base there but does nothing to curb there friendly dictator, lets not even talk about the mafia Saud family that even renamed the country after themselves they are the most beloved dictator family of the the West. Western hypocritical politics has caused the death of millions and if the Russians stand up against Western hypocrisy with there own form of hypocrisy so be it. At least the excesses of Western hypocrisy will be checked.

      Barry - 2012-01-19 07:14

      Finally. At least there is a country on UN Security council with some common sense. It is high time the marauding USA and its lap dogs take a wake up call.

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-01-19 10:17

      How did they persuade them? Did they use their magical mind control wand to sign the Libiya resolution? Russia is trying to save face because of the arms supply to the Syrian regime and its economic ties ,Putin also wants to make a statement to the demonstraters in his own country that he will not be ousted even by the will of the people. Ask why the Syrian people are still demonstrating after so many months ? why are journalists barred from entry ? Whay aren't the pro-assad supports engaging mainstream media? Why is one man(Assad) who can see that his position is causing the death of so many not stepping down and ushering in a transitional government for the good of his people ? One mans greed and lust for power accompanied by the fact he will be charged, tried and atrocities revealed.

      Graziella - 2012-01-19 10:32

      I believe Assad is a typical leader like most in this world, certainly not free of blood on his hands. But to claim Assad runs Syria single handedly and no one else does is ridiculous. But then we always need that one single evil figure we can all despise to justify murdering everyone else.

      Barry - 2012-01-19 20:17

      @allcovered.. I am just glad you never mentioned Iran's Nuclear weapons. Just like you I know they don't exist. So if you think about this article is really moot.

      Fred - 2012-02-16 19:50

      "The West" did no such thing. The Arab League rightly introduced the resolution and urged the Security Council to act. The Arab League was very much involved in the actions taken by NATO, which was limited to reducing the psychotic Gaddafi's ability to kill as many Libyans as needed to hold onto his 42-year dictatorial rule that enriched him with billions of dollars belonging to the Libyan people. It's hard to read your thoughts when they are so prejudiced and faulty.

      Fred - 2012-02-16 19:54

      Barry, have you forgotten that Russia invaded and colonized Iran? Your prejudice is blinding you to reality and, like Graziella and a few other West-hating, Western-Internet loving bloggers, renders your messages useless and irrelevant.

  • mundu.olewega - 2012-01-18 20:26

    Russia is envious of the evil in Syria. What a bunch of losers.

      Gerhard - 2012-01-18 20:45

      Syria is Russia's only leg in the ME

      Jaba - 2012-01-19 00:00

      Much to everyone's desire to ignore the elephant in the room, let's not forget that without Russia, Iran wouldn't have a nuclear capacity. Iran is a client of Russia, Syria is a client of Iran, Hezbollah is a client of Syria. Get the picture? The dynamics of the Mideast WILL change - for the better - if these relationships are disrupted by Western intervention (military or sanction) and the possibility for peace in the ME will - for once in a blue moon, have the possibility to advance immediately

      Graziella - 2012-01-19 10:28

      @Jaba Substitute the words Russia for America, Syria for Bahrain and Iran for Saudi Arabia. Get the picture? Instead processing all things from all angles then turning the dials of the mind to get the precise setting, the far right neo-cons have simply chosen to flick a switch on or off. As George W. Bush said, 'you're either with us or with them'. It is an extremely lazy and trouble free way to live one's intellectual life.

  • Graziella - 2012-01-18 21:18

    With two wars, and countless casualties, lecturing anyone on human rights is absurd. The NATO terrorists have no authority to lecture anyone on anything.

      Fred - 2012-02-16 19:58

      You're seriously confused. But no worries, thankfully those you know better are more influential in world affairs, or you'd be toast. Have you considered moving to Waziristan, and taking your girlfriends with you? Please do and tell us how it is to be a woman in Islamic Fundamentalist areas of our world.

  • Mboneni - 2012-01-18 21:18

    Russia is out of step with the development in syria where unarmed civilians are being killed by the dictator president Al-Assad.It is shameful for Russia to advance their selt interest at the expense of innocent lives.Respect human rights

      Graziella - 2012-01-18 21:23

      Russia is worried over the ethics of Libya, the legitimacy of Iraq, the efficacy of Afghanistan...

      Graziella - 2012-01-18 22:08

      Must everything be spelled out to you. Read between the lines! Obviously the reasons are many and not limited to my speculations. Russia has a useful naval base in Syria and so, given that words cost nothing, is obviously going to argue against any efforts to assist the overthrow of the regime there. The U.S. has a useful naval base in Bahrain and has been equally cynical in its response to the Arab Spring when it bloomed there.

      Graziella - 2012-01-19 07:09

      Are you really that dumb, haven't you been following events regarding Russia stance as far as the three other conflicts have been concerned. Is it the first time that you are hearing of Russia foreign minister and what his pronounciations have been in the past. Is News24 your only source of intl. news? It's called deductive reasoning stupid, look it up.

      Dayaan - 2012-01-19 09:19

      The USA has been out of step for decades and have been backing dictators or even installing there own dictators if the people freely elected someone that they did not like. USA fifth fleet base is in Bahrain but the USA is not doing anything to stop the current dictator from murdering there own people even locking up the medics who treated the wounded. So do not just call Russia out of step the USA have been out of step for far to long.

      Fred - 2012-02-16 20:06

      Russia has, with China, the worst human rights records of any country on Earth. It has only recently emerged from Communisim, is new to international affairs and doesn't really know how to be in the international arena. This is why it has alienated itself, with China, and aligned itself with thugs like Syria's Assad. Both Putin and the Chinese regime will be out by year's end.

      Fred - 2012-02-16 20:07

      Dayaan, the US is not perfect by any means, but it is certainly a far greater force for the good than the present Russian regime, that's for sure.

  • The-Azanian - 2012-01-18 23:10

    i thought it was only mzansi losing their mables, now its a veto wielding country...whos next? china or brazil.

  • ludlowdj - 2012-01-19 11:16

    As I have already state time and again, the game is a lot bigger than just Iran and Syria this time around, any Attempt by the west to enforce control over those countries will meet armed resistance from the communist NATO block, including not only Russia but china and its allies as well. The US has spent a lot of time overstepping its bounds over the last few years and needs to be brought to heel like the rabid dog it has become.

      Fred - 2012-02-16 20:00

      The Communist NATO block? My God, what world are you living in? You're as dusional as Fidel, and that's saying something.

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