Moscow Threatens to Veto West's 'Unacceptable' U.N. Resolution on Syriaإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Russia rejects as unacceptable the text of a Western-backed U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria and will use its veto if the draft is brought to a vote later Thursday, a deputy foreign minister said.
"If they decide this (a vote on Thursday) -- knowing that for us the text is unacceptable -- then we will not allow it to pass," Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told the Interfax news agency.
Gatilov added he did not expect there to be a vote as soon as Thursday: "The process of consultations is only just starting and should take some time," he said.
"As a whole, their resolution is unbalanced and foresees that obligations should only be fulfilled by the Syrian government. Practically nothing is said about the obligations of the opposition," he said.
He objected that the resolution links an extension of the mandate of the U.N. mission in Syria -- which Russia supports -- with the introduction of sanctions if the Syrian government does not fulfill certain conditions.
"We will try to move to a constructive text for a possible draft resolution which can reflect the true situation," Gatilov said.
Britain, France, Germany and the United States submitted a draft text that would give President Bashar Assad 10 days to implement U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's ceasefire plan or face tough new sanctions.
If Security Council members approve it, the resolution would allow for non-military sanctions under Chapter VII of the U.N. charter if Syrian government forces keep up their offensive on cities.
Negotiations on the Western draft and a rival Russian resolution, which does not mention sanctions, started Thursday in New York. A vote must be held before July 20, when the mandate of the U.N. observer mission in Syria ends.
Russia made clear from the outset that sanctions were a "red line" for veto-wielding Moscow.
"Anything can be negotiated but we do not negotiate this. This is a red line," Russia's deputy U.N. ambassador Igor Pankin told reporters at the Security Council after the first talks among key envoys.
Russia and China have previously twice used their powers as permanent members of the Security Council to veto resolutions which hinted at sanctions.
The draft calls for an "immediate" end to violence by government and opposition forces and demands that President Assad's troops return to barracks in line with the Annan plan and U.N. resolutions passed in April.
The resolution would renew the mandate of the U.N. Supervision Mission in Syria for 45 days, and calls on the mission to take on more political duties, moving away from monitoring a non-existent ceasefire.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on an Asian tour, coordinated with China on moves to support the peace plan drawn up by Annan, who has said the U.N. motion should include "clear consequences" for the regime if it fails to act.
"I had a good discussion on these issues with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang (Jiechi) today and we agreed to do all we can in New York to see the Geneva plan... be implemented," she said on Thursday.
World powers agreed in Geneva last month a plan for a transition in Syria which did not make an explicit call for Assad to quit power. However the West swiftly made clear it saw no role for Assad in a unity government.
"We do look to the Security Council and all its members including Russia to join us in a serious resolution that gives special envoy Kofi Annan what he needs, what he's asking for and imposes real consequences on the regime for continuing to defy its obligations," Clinton said.
The regime and the opposition publicly accept Annan's peace plan, but fighting has raged on and rights monitors estimate that more than 17,000 Syrians have died since March 2011.