Pressure gained on Russia to back tougher action against its ally Syria after President Bashar al-Assad ignored a United Nations cease-fire deadline.
“The Russians have continuously said they want to avoid civil war, they want to avoid a regional conflict,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said yesterday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. “But their refusal to join with us in some sort of constructive action is keeping Assad in power, well armed, able to ignore the demands of his own people, of his region and the world.”
Russia has used its veto power on the Council, the UN’s decision-making body, to protect Syria from efforts by Western powers and their Arab allies to consider sanctions against Assad’s regime and call on him to step aside. That stance may become more difficult to maintain after Russia used its influence to get Assad to agree to a troop pullout by yesterday, a pledge he didn’t keep.
Clinton will meet with her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Washington at a gathering of Group of Eight foreign ministers. She said she expected “a very rough couple of days in trying to determine whether we go to the Security Council seeking action knowing that Russia is still not on board.”
The result would be to keep requiring them to have to either veto or abstain and see what we can try to bring about, because we’re not going to give up,” Clinton said. “we’re going to keep pushing for both humanitarian and strategic reasons.”