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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid