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

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake 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.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid