Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad, faces a "sad fate" if he fails to introduce promised reforms in response to a four-month-old opposition uprising.
In comments to Russian media Thursday, Medvedev said President Assad must carry out those reforms urgently, reconcile with the opposition, restore peace and establish a modern state. Speaking in the southern Russian resort of Sochi, he said Moscow's position on the Syrian uprising is changing as the situation in Syria changes.
Russia agreed Wednesday to support a United Nations Security Council presidential statement that condemns Assad's crackdown on the revolt, which rights groups say has killed at least 1,600 civilians since March.
Medvedev said Thursday Russia is gravely concerned by what he calls the "large number of people dying" in the Syrian uprising.
But the Russian president has opposed calls by Western nations for a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding an end to Assad's crackdown, and has warned the West not to interfere in Syrian affairs. Russia has had close political ties with Syria since the Soviet era, when it began selling weapons to Damascus.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.