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

As AIDS Epidemic Matures, Workplaces Adapt

Issue of AIDS in workplace is one of many social issues being discussed at the 20th International Aids Conference in Australia More

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid