Russia says it opposes American and European calls for Syria’s President al-Assad to step down. According to Moscow, he needs more time to implement promised reforms.
The position sets Russia firmly against the West, which has called for Assad’s departure for the first time amid a prolonged crackdown against anti-government protests.
Moscow says it will not support a planned UN resolution on Syria, instead backing the August 3 statement condemning the violence.
A foreign ministry source described as “very important” Assad’s announcement that military operations have stopped. Britain does not believe the Syrian leader.
“We will be working on a Security Council resolution which will include measures to apply that pressure to those who are responsible (for the violence),” said Philip Parham, the UK’s ambassador to the UN.
UN investigators say Assad’s forces may have committed crimes against humanity in a campaign which is believed to have killed nearly 2,000 civilians.
But Russia, which has sold arms to Syria and has the power of veto at the Security Council, has long called for non-interference and internal dialogue.