News / Europe

Russia Warns West Against Military Action in Syria

U.N. chemical weapons experts visit a hospital where wounded people affected by a suspected gas attack are being treated, in the southwestern Damascus suburb of Mouadamiya, Aug. 26, 2013.
U.N. chemical weapons experts visit a hospital where wounded people affected by a suspected gas attack are being treated, in the southwestern Damascus suburb of Mouadamiya, Aug. 26, 2013.
Selah Hennessy
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called on Western states to “avoid past mistakes” and not take military action in Syria. But European governments are considering their response after hundreds of civilians were allegedly killed by Syrian government forces near Damascus last week in a chemical weapons attack.

Lavrov said military intervention against the government  without the approval of the United Nations would be a “gross violation of international law.”

He made the comments at a press conference only hours after Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague told the BBC that an international response to the Syrian crisis would be possible without unanimous U.N. Security Council backing.

“Is it possible to respond to chemical weapons without complete unity at the U.N. Security Council? I would argue yes, it is," he said. "Otherwise it might be impossible to respond to such outrages, such crimes.”

He said diplomatic pressure has so far failed to resolve Syria’s conflict and that it must be made clear that chemical weapons cannot be used “with impunity.”

Meanwhile Hague’s counterpart in France, Laurent Fabius, said France was willing to join an international coalition against Syria without Security Council unity.

But speaking on Europe 1 Radio, he said a decision to take military action in Syria has not yet been made.

U.N. arms investigators are gathering evidence related to an alleged chemical weapons attack that took place last Wednesday, in which hundreds of people were killed.

Both sides in Syria’s ongoing conflict have denied responsibility.

Britain and France have said they believe government forces carried out the alleged chemical attack, while a United States government spokesperson has said the U.S. has "very little doubt" that President Bashar al-Assad's forces are responsible.

Assad said the allegations are “politically motivated”. At the press conference Monday, Russia’s Lavrov said Washington, London, and Paris had produced no evidence that the Syrian authorities were guilty of a chemical attack.  

Marc Pierini, a former EU ambassador to Syria who is now a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, said European leaders still hope to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis.

“The main thing now is to see if in the coming few days a last attempt at diplomacy can be made and if Russia can be convinced that pressure on the Assad regime would be better than the alternative,” he said.

Pierini said conclusive evidence from the U.N. weapons inspectors could help unify the Security Council, but says complete unity among council members is unlikely in any case.

“The evidence is there, so I am quite convinced that there will be action even without Security Council approval,” he added.

He said Western governments may consider launching missile attacks against the Syrian regime, but added that there is limited popular support for broader military intervention. 

“It all depends on the way it is done. There is an overwhelming lack of support for any ground troops - that would certainly be a major political problem for any of the European countries and for the U.S. - but that is not what we are talking about,” said Pierini.

The aid group Doctors Without Borders says more around 3,600 patients were hospitalized with "neurotoxin symptoms" following last week’s attack. It said 355 people died.

Since Syria’s conflict began, Syria’s allies Russia and China have repeatedly blocked U.N. Security Council sanctions against Assad’s government.

You May Like

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid