Russia Unwilling To Back Assad Ouster

The Russian Government is reportedly not on board with the calls from Western governments for Syrian leader Bashar Assad to step aside:

Russia opposes U.S. and European leaders’ calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign, Interfax news agency reported Friday, saying that the leader should get more time to implement reforms.

The move by Russia counters efforts by leaders ratcheting up international pressure against a regime criticized for its brutal crackdown against protesters calling for reforms and the ouster of al-Assad.

“We do not support such calls, and we think that President al-Assad should be given time today to implement all of the declared reform processes,” a Russian Foreign Ministry official told the nation’s Interfax news agency.

The refusal by Russia to go along with U.S. and European leaders’ calls is a departure from its stance in June when Prime Minister Vladimir Putin criticized the crackdown and called for pressure to be put on Syria to stop the violence.

The Russian Foreign Ministry official, according to Interfax, said “what counts most is al-Assad’s statement yesterday that they are stopping all military operations.”

During a telephone call with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, al-Assad said military operations in the country had been halted.

Opposition protesters have refuted the claim, saying security forces have been arresting people and setting up checkpoints in and around cities.

Russia also was encouraged with Syria’s agreement to accept a humanitarian mission from the United Nations into the country to look for the effects of the months-long military crackdown on anti-government protesters, the official told Interfax.

Russia’s refusal to go along with the the U.S. on Assad’s ouster makes it virtually certain that the United Nations Security Council is unlikely to back any serious measures against the Assad regime. The only reason that the Security Council Resolutions on Libya passed in March is because Russia and China abstained rather than exercising their veto power. These statements from the Russian government make it unlikely that they’d abstain this time.

 

FILED UNDER: Middle East, Quick Takes,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook