News / Middle East

    Russia 'Never Supported' Syrian Government

    VOA News
    Russia says it "never supported" the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters Monday in Moscow that Russia does not support one side in the Syrian conflict over another, and criticized what he said were other countries misrepresenting Russia's policies.

    "We were never enchanted with this regime. And we never supported it," he said. "And all of our actions, aimed at helping to fulfill the Geneva agreement to form the transitional body, only confirm that we want the situation to stabilize, and the creation of the conditions that Syrians can themselves decide their fate - of their own people, their own state, their own leadership."

    His comments come a day after Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Assad made a potentially "fatal" error by delaying democratic reforms demanded by Syria's opposition.  He said Assad should have acted much faster to reach out to moderate opponents, and that he believes the president's chances of remaining in power are getting smaller each day.

    Russia has been a longtime supplier of weapons to the ruling Assad family and has vetoed U.N. Security Council resolutions that would have condemned him for trying to crush what began as a peaceful pro-democracy uprising.

    Also Monday, Syrian opposition members met with representatives from friendly countries in Paris, where French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called for giving the opposition the means to defend itself and support its political aims.

    "What we all want is that Syria can free itself. And we want to avoid what we call chaos. If we don't give the means to the Syrian people to go right to the end of its liberation, we all know that there is a risk that the massacres will increase, that antagonisms will develop," said Fabius. "That extremism and terrorism will prevail. We want to fight those."

    Syrian state media said Sunday the government's top judicial council has suspended legal action against exiled opposition figures, to allow them to return home for a national dialogue proposed by President Assad earlier this month. However, Syria's exiled opposition coalition has consistently refused to deal with Assad, saying he must leave power before any peace talks can begin.

    U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos was in Damascus on Sunday to learn more about the suffering caused by the conflict, which she has described as "catastrophic."

    The U.N. is to hold a donor conference in Kuwait Wednesday, to raise funds for Syria's humanitarian crisis.

    The rebellion has evolved into civil war in which majority Sunni rebels and Islamist militants have been fighting to end the 12-year rule of Assad, a minority Alawite.

    The United Nations estimates that more than 60,000 people have been killed since the Syrian uprising began with pro-democracy protests in March 2011, before evolving into a civil war.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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    by: Anonymous
    January 30, 2013 12:52 PM
    Militarily Russia absolutely has. Most of the civilians killed were killed by Russian weapons / bullets / bombs.

    by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
    January 28, 2013 5:36 PM
    Russia is the most important supporter of the dictator Bashar al-Assad because:
    (1) supplies most of the military weapons to Assad,
    (2) maintain a naval base at Tartus on the Mediterranean coast of Syria, the only year round deep water port of Russia outside Russia,
    (3) recently conducted a massive naval exercise in the Mediterranean Sea close to the Tartus naval base to show support for Assad,
    (4) vetoed the UN resolution in the Security Council condemning Assad, and
    (5) claimed neutrality in the Syrian conflict, indirectly helping Assad.

    Recently, the Russian tune is changing:
    (1) supported the UN resolution refering the human rights violations during the Syrian conflict to the international court,
    (2) Russia slowly started evacuating Russian citizens from Syria,
    (3) Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev announced that Assad made the fatal error of delaying democratic changes in Syria,
    (4) Russian Foreign Minister Sergie Lavrow told that Russia never supported Assad and Russians are never enchanted with the Assad regime.

    These mixed signals from Russia are not enough. If Russia is sincere in their actions and anouncements, Russia should
    (1) support an international force to get rid of Assad,
    (2) stop all military supplies to Assad,
    (3) offer humanitarian aid to the refugees from Syria in Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan, and
    (4) offer humanitarian help to the internally displaced persons in Syria.

    Even China has offered modest humanitarian help to the Syrian refugees. But for Russia, about 65,000 Syrians died, much more maimed and hundreds of thousands of Syrians displaced in Syria and much more refugees in the neighboring countries are not enough for Putin to come clean in Syrian conflict.


    by: Anonymous
    January 28, 2013 12:02 PM
    But Bashar al Assad is a criminal that has killed thousands of innocent Syrian Civilians. Last I checked the Russians were not letting anyone take out Bashar for his crimes against the Nation. It is inevitable that Bashar will fall anyways (and likely be killed by his own people. ) So the west could of taken out Bashar over a year ago and saved tens of thousands of lives, but Russia didn't want that. Russia would rather the people suffer than to disrupt their arms deals. Russian gov, are criminals (Well Putin anyways).

    by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
    January 28, 2013 9:47 AM
    Russia says it "never supported" the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The bullets/rockets/bombs were made/delivered by airplanes/helicopters made in another world, not in Russia?. The 60,000 dead and the 4,000,000 starving, will certainly take note of this communist era type of lie. How can a person have such low morals to make such blatantly false statements.
    Russia and China are still preventing the setting of humanitarian corridors and distribution centres for the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Syrian civilian population. The Syrian civilians are facing a catastrophic sit, essentially genocide, by refusing to allow, under UN mandate, for international forces to set up and patrol the humanitarian effort, Russia and China are directly responsible for this international humanitarian failure at the UNSC.

    by: Paris Tun from: Myanmar
    January 28, 2013 8:47 AM
    At the end of the day, it seems like , nobody wants to have anything to do with bloody Assad. One day ago, Russia prides itself on being the staunchest ally of sick dictator, like Assad or Than Shwe(Burma's world famous dictator). Now they say, they didn't support those dictator. Perhaps, the Russians don't want the blood of Syrians' people fall on their head. At least, they now know, it is shameless and evil thing to feed those sick dictators. Thank God!
    If the Russians are honest, they will confess that they made a very bad judgement and feel ashamed of themselves in stead of denying connection with Assad.

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