News / Middle East

Despite Criticism, Russia Stands By Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, right, shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (2008 file photo)
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, right, shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (2008 file photo)
James Brooke

As Syria takes criticism from almost all quarters, one nation - Russia - stands virtually alone in defending the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

While Arab League ministers discussed future steps on Syria, where 5,400 people have died in anti-government violence, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov issued a warning: no sanctions and no foreign troops. Lavrov says that for Russia, the red line is fairly clearly drawn. He says Moscow will not support any sanctions.

At the same press conference, the foreign minister said Russia would use its United Nations Security Council veto to deny a U.N. mandate for the use of foreign troops in Syria
.

At the U.N. and in Moscow, Russian diplomats place violence by Syria’s largely civilian opposition on an equal level with violence by Syria’s army and police.

Lavrov says Western governments are one-sided because they ignore violence by Syria’s opponents.

But some say Russia sides with Syria’s government. Last week, Russia's only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, and an eight-ship battle group dropped anchor at Moscow's naval base in Tarsus, Syria. Two days later, a freighter from St. Petersburg reportedly delivered 60 tons of Russian ammunition and weapons to a Syrian port.

Carnegie Moscow Center proliferation analyst Pyotr Topychkanov says the Kremlin is taking a stand in Syria.

“After the change of power in Egypt, in Iraq and in Libya, Russia has lost a number of contracts, including contracts in the arms trade,” he noted.

Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the Institute of Near Eastern Studies, believes that Arab politicians are using the West to knock out governments sympathetic to Iran.

“We try to support stability and evolution rather than the situation in Libya," he said, "which gives us the view that Western politicians are not more than the instrument in the hands of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. That is not our role in this world.”

Satanovsky, like many Russians today, is deeply skeptical of revolutions.

“The problem is, from the Russian point of view, that the destruction of this regime will mean not democracy and stability. It will mean civil war. Millions of refugees. Hundreds of thousands will be killed," he said. "Deaths of the Syrian Christian community, which is very important for the Russian Orthodox Church.”

For Topychkanov, Russia’s phobia of foreign regime change reflects the Kremlin’s domestic insecurities.

“After the beginning of the so-called Arab Spring, an intergovernmental commission was launched to assess the regime change influence to the domestic situation in Russia. So this is a fear, a very strong fear, in Moscow, in the political elite,” he said.

As Russia faces more street protests and a presidential election on March 4, few people expect the Kremlin to suddenly show sympathy for the Arab Spring - one year after it began.

You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid