MOSCOW — Russia will block any attempt by the West to secure U.N. support for the use of force against Syria, Russia’s foreign minister said Wednesday.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia’s draft of a U.N. Security Council resolution on the violence in Syria that circulated Monday was aimed at making it explicitly clear that nothing could justify a foreign military interference. Western diplomats said it fell short of their demand for strong condemnation of Syria’s President Bashar Assad’s crackdown on civilians, that has left more than 5,000 people dead.
The Security Council has been unable to agree on a resolution since the violence began in March because a strong opposition from Russia and China. In October, they vetoed a West European draft resolution, backed by the U.S., that condemned Assad’s attacks and threatened sanctions.
Lavrov said Russia would reject any attempts at securing a U.N. sanction for a military interference in Syrian affairs.
“If some intend to use force at all cost … we can hardly prevent that from happening,” he said. “But let them do it at their own initiative on their own conscience, they won’t get any authorization from the U.N. Security Council.”
Lavrov also said that Russia doesn’t consider it necessary to offer an explanation or excuses over suspicions that a Russian ship had delivered munitions to Syria despite an EU arms embargo.
Lavrov told a news conference that Russia was acting in full respect of the international law and wouldn’t be guided by unilateral sanctions imposed by other nations.
“We haven’t violated any international agreements or the U.N. Security Council resolutions,” he said. “We are only trading with Syria in items, which aren’t banned by the international law.”
Lavrov accused the West of turning a blind eye to attacks by opposition militants and supplies of weapons to the Syrian opposition from abroad.
“They are dodging the main question — why we should keep silent about the extremist opposition’s actions against administrative buildings, hospital, schools,” he said, urging the West to use its contacts with the opposition to urge it to refrain from violence.
He said that arms supplies to the Syrian opposition are “unacceptable and absolutely counterproductive, because it only fuels more violence.”
Russia has been seen as a backer of the Syrian regime since the Soviet times when Syria was led by Bashar Assad’s father, although Russian officials last fall hosted prominent Syrian opposition leaders in Moscow in a bid to sponsor talks.
Meanwhile, activists said Syrian troops have shelled a town near the border with Lebanon, and living conditions were deteriorating there after six days of siege.
A resident and activist of the mountain resort of Zabadani describes the town as a “war zone.” He says dozens of anti-government army defectors are deployed at the entrances to prevent any attempt by forces loyal to Assad to storm the area.
The man who identified himself only as Fares for fear of government reprisals told The Associated Press by phone that the town was shelled with mortars shortly before noon Wednesday.
Thousands of people have been killed in the regime’s crackdown on the anti-Assad revolt, which began as a peaceful uprising but which has turned increasingly militarized in recent months.