Russia on Tuesday warned the West against any unilateral action on Syria, a day after President Barack Obama cautioned the United States might intervene militarily in the ongoing conflict if the Syrian regime uses its chemical or biological weapons against the rebels.
"There should be no interference from the outside. The only thing that foreign players should do is create conditions for the start of dialogue," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as telling reporters in Moscow after holding talks in Moscow with China's State Councilor Dai Bingguo and a visiting Syrian government delegation.
Lavrov stressed that both Moscow and Beijing are determined to ensure that ongoing international efforts aimed at ending the Syrian conflict "strictly adhere to the norms of international law and the principles contained in the UN Charter, and not to allow their violation."
"I think this is the only correct path in today's conditions," Lavrov said, adding that only the UN Security Council has the power to authorize any kind of military intervention in the Syrian conflict. He also warned the West against imposing "democracy by bombs."
Russia and China had used their veto powers at the UN Security Council (UNSC) last month to block a West-backed resolution that would have threatened the Syrian regime with sanctions if it failed to implement a six point peace plan aimed at ending the violence . It was the third time in nine months that the two nations vetoed resolutions on Syria.
Moscow and Beijing were stoutly opposed to a forced regime change in Syria and were also against imposing UN sanctions on the regime. The two nations want the crisis to be resolved by diplomatic means. They, along with the Syrian regime, accuse the West and their Arab allies of escalating the Syrian conflict by arming the rebels. But, the west has rejected the allegations.
The latest developments come a day after President Obama warned that the use or deployment of chemical or biological weapons in Syria could prompt the United States to intervene militarily in the ongoing conflict in the unrest-hit Middle East nation.
Noting that he has not ordered US military intervention in Syria "at this point," Obama warned that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would face "enormous consequences" if he uses chemical and biological weapons to quell the 17-month-long upraising against his rule.
"We've been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is if we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus," Obama added.
There has been considerable concern that Syria's chemical weapons could fall into hostile hands, in particular insurgents fighting the government, or be used by to defend the regime. Besides, the Syrian regime said last month it will only use such destructive weapons against external aggression. Insisting that such weapons will not be used not against its own citizens, the regime stressed the weapon stocks were secure.
Currently, there is heavy fighting between government forces and armed rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad's rule in Syria. Although Syrian security forces have managed to retain their control over capital Damascus, Syria's largest city of Aleppo as well as several other towns and cities have been the center of intense fighting in recent weeks.
More than 18,000 people, mostly civilians, are believed to have been killed and tens of thousands displaced since anti- regime protests broke out in Syria in March 2011. The conflict is now viewed as a civil war by most of the international community.
In addition to those trapped inside Syria, the conflict has forced hundreds of thousands of Syrians to seek refuge in neighboring Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan. The conflict is now threatening to spill over to neighboring countries and is increasingly becoming sectarian in nature.
by RTT Staff Writer
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