News / Middle East

Clinton Slams Russia on Syria

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton smiles during a forum with students at the Royal Library in Copenhagen, Denmark, May 31, 2012.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton smiles during a forum with students at the Royal Library in Copenhagen, Denmark, May 31, 2012.
COPENHAGEN - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says continuing Russian support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is blocking United Nations action to end 15 months of violence and could help lead to civil war. Clinton is in Denmark, at the beginning of a one-week trip to Europe.

Secretary Clinton says "very strong opposition" from Russia is making it harder to put together an international coalition against President Assad. But, she says Washington is not giving up on such a coalition, because "every day that goes by makes the case stronger."

Clinton told a question-and-answer session with youth leaders in the Danish capital that, without Russian support, U.N. and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan cannot expand his mandate to push Damascus to confront what she calls terrible dangers.

Clinton says the continuing slaughter of innocent people by the military, by pro-government militia and by government opponents could become civil war. In a country already riven by sectarian divides.  She says that could quickly become a regional proxy war.

"You have Iran deeply embedded in Syria," she said. "Their military are coaching the Syrian military. Their so-called Quds force, which is a branch of the military, is helping them set up these sectarian militias. And, you have Russia continuing to supply them arms."

Clinton says the threat of wider regional conflict is fed by cross-border security concerns in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

"We know it could actually get much worse than it is. And, we are trying to prevent that," she said. "And, my argument to the Russians is they keep telling me they don't want to see a civil war. And, I have been telling them their policy is going to help contribute to a civil war. It is not a satisfactory answer yet, but we are trying to keep pushing all the pieces together to support Kofi Annan as an independent voice because the Syrians are not going to listen to us. They will listen, maybe, to the Russians. So we have to keep pushing them."

Russia's Interfax news agency Thursday quoted President Vladimir Putin's spokesman as saying Russia's position on Syria is well-known, balanced, consistent, and completely logical. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov says "it is hardly appropriate to talk about this position changing under someone's pressure."

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon told a forum in Turkey Thursday that recent massacres of civilians could plunge Syria into a "catastrophic civil war" from which the country would never recover.

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Comment Sorting
by: Observer from: Southeastasia
June 01, 2012 12:30 AM
China and Russia have now obtained wider and stronger control over other countries than the US cum Europe. Probably in the near future the US and Europe too will come under their influence, and later control if Obama and European leaders continue to be mostly bogged down in the economic issues of their countries.

by: klare
May 31, 2012 10:49 AM
Clinton made LIBya and now SYRIA rebellionsAs chaos consumes Libya, with death squads roaming the fractured nation committing atrocities, torture, racist genocide, and mired in infighting, and with the violence in Syria now fully exposed as foreign terrorists organized, armed, directed, and staged since 2007 by the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, one might think journalists today would be careful about invoking these "successes" while trying to sow destabilization elsewhere. But for Russian "journalist" Yulia Latynina, repeating US State Department talking points, no matter how hypocritical, no matter how oafishly in contradiction to reality, is just another day on the job.

by: Dan Good from: Mamer, Luxembourg
May 31, 2012 9:42 AM
What Clinton says sounds neither credible or sincere. First, the Syrians have always cooperarated with America. And Bashad is not a hated dictator, as he is ususally portrayed. Secondly, who is the opposition in Syria? Its leaders seem to be outside of Syria, in the same way as "opposition" to Iraq was outside Iraq. Ahmed Chalabi comes to mind. Russia and China have said clearly that they feel betrayed by NATO's conduct in Lybia and do not want a repeat of that debacle. Why does Clinton pretend to be surprised now by resistence of Russia and China? If the US can go alone anyway, whihc it can, no one can stop it. So why put up a pretence? Bismarck was better at play acting back in the 1870's than the USA today. And in the end Bismarck created a strong country that was universally feared and reviled. Is that what Clinton is trying to do? Americans overseas can feel the embarrassement of their country's shinanigans. The best policy for the US would be to reduce its military spending and start serious cooperation with allies and adversaries. An increasingly confrontational world is being created and it made possible by US abuse of powers granted to it after WW II at Bretton Woods by defeated Europe. Europe does not want to go back to those days. But is seems the US is itching to do so.

by: briancutshall from: Texas
May 31, 2012 9:17 AM
Why should Russia change its stance? Syria is spending millions for arms and munitions and Russia is the benefactor. Russia is making millions of dollars supplying Syria with these arms. bite the hand that feed you? Not likely.

by: carlos lascoutx from: mexico
May 31, 2012 9:08 AM
...Russia saying their support for Syria is consistent means
they approve the massacre of their own citizens to maintain
the increasingly unpopular longevity of Putin, are willing to risk
civil war to do so, have abandoned any pretence of a democratic electoral system, will continue to oppress their people through their wormy judicial system, and/or brute force.

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