Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says his country will never support a British proposal to enact United Nations sanctions as a solution to the Syrian crisis.
Lavrov made the remarks on Monday in comments to journalists at the Foreign Ministry before a meeting with Kofi Annan, the United Nations and Arab League special envoy on Syria.
He characterized Western foreign policy in Syria as naïve and dangerous and said it failed to take into account the vulnerability of Christian and Muslim religious minorities and the presence of terrorists among the armed opposition.
Persuading Russia to take a harder line on Syria is “not the key” to finding peace, he said, adding that the pressure on Russia from the West has “elements of blackmail”.
A Western-backed British proposal would link the extension of the UN mission with an ultimatum to President Bashar al-Assad to withdraw heavy weapons from populated areas or face economic sanctions.
The British proposal would invoke Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter, which empowers the Security Council to enforce its demands with economic sanctions, and, if deemed necessary, military action.
“To our great regret, there are elements of blackmail,” Lavrov said. “We are being told: if you do not agree to the resolution under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, then we shall refuse to extend the mandate of the monitoring mission in this country.”
“We consider it an absolutely counterproductive and dangerous approach since it is unacceptable to use observers as bargaining chips,” he said.