News / Middle East

US Slams Russia, Warns of Promoting Civil War in Syria

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt welcomes U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Copenhagen.Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt welcomes U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Copenhagen.
x
Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt welcomes U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Copenhagen.
Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt welcomes U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Copenhagen.
COPENHAGEN - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slammed Russia Thursday, blaming "very strong opposition" from Moscow for blocking efforts to put together an international coalition to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.

During a visit to the Danish capital of Copenhagen, Clinton warned Russian opposition is not acceptable as the situation in Syria continues to erode, with both the Syrian military and pro-government militias increasingly targeting and slaughtering innocent civilians.

"We know it could actually get much worse than it is," Clinton said. "And we are trying to prevent that," "They [the Russians] keep telling me they don't want to see a civil war. And I have been telling them their policy is going to help contribute to a civil war."

Clinton's warning echoes similar concerns put forward by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said Thursday that incidents such as last week's massacre of 100 people in the central town of Houla "could plunge Syria into a catastrophic civil war ... from which the country would never recover."

Moscow stands firm

Moscow remained resolute Thursday, signaling it would continue to block any effort to authorize military intervention in its long-time Middle Eastern ally.

"It is hardly appropriate to talk about this position changing under someone's pressure," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Interfax news agency.

Moscow has long said it wants to see dialogue with both the Syrian opposition and President Assad’s regime, though Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned Russia's stance should not be seen as support for the Assad government.

Clinton said Thursday that Russia's position is not good enough.

"It is not a satisfactory answer yet, but we are trying to keep pushing all the pieces together," she said.  "The Syrians are not going to listen to us. They will listen, maybe, to the Russians. So we have to keep pushing them."

U.S. fears

The U.S. is also worried about the situation in Syria spiraling out of control, sparking a proxy war.

"You have Iran deeply embedded in Syria. Their military are coaching the Syrian military. Their so-called Quds force, which is a branch of the military, is helping them set up these sectarian militias," Clinton said. "And you have Russia continuing to supply them arms."

Russia says it wants dialogue, and enforcement of the cease-fire brokered by U.N. and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.  Washington says Annan should be empowered to expand his mandate and confront Damascus about its role in the escalating violence.   

But analysts say the U.S. may be hard-pressed to get its way.

"I think Russia has taken a firm stand that it would not be allowed to use the U.N. Security Council for regime change, for toppling a national leader," said Masha Lipman, a political analyst with the Carnegie Center in Moscow.  "Russia has made it very clear that it will not come on board with Western countries, especially given the physical stage in U.S.-Russia relations. This stand will remain firm."

Despite the strained relations, on Sunday Russia did support a non-binding Security Council resolution that strongly condemned the Houla massacre.  It has also criticized Assad’s government for using heavy weapons in population centers.

Stearns reported from Copenhagen and Golloher from Moscow. 

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs