Russia defends UN Syria veto

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Russia defends UN Syria veto

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Russia has defended its veto of a UN Security Council resolution on Syria, saying it contained no measures against armed opposition groups.

Permanent members Russia and China blocked a condemnation of the government’s crackdown on protesters.

Both oppose regime change in Syria.

The 13 other countries sitting on the Security Council backed the text and the vetos were widely criticised by the remaining three permanent members: France, Britain and the United States.

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said that the draft was too closely based to an earlier Arab League resolution.

“One of the problems we clearly saw was that when the Syrian government forces were pulling out, armed groups were moving in so there was a need and there still is to address that situation,” Churkin said.

“There is no rule that the Security Council should repeat all resolutions adopted by regional organisations verbatim.”

Russia vetoed a previous draft resolution in October criticising President Bashar Assad’s use of force against anti-government demonstrators.

The two countries enjoy close military and commercial ties.

Syria hosts a Russian naval base and arms trade between Moscow and Damascus is worth 3.8 billion euros.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is set to hold talks with President Assad in Damascus on Tuesday.