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Russia: Give us a good reason to jilt Syria's Assad

One Russian analyst summed up Moscow's resistance by saying, 'We simply don't believe Western leaders know what they're doing, and we're not listening to all that chatter anymore.'

By Correspondent / May 31, 2012

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attend the United Russia party annual congress in Moscow, Saturday, May 26.

Alexei Nikolsky, Government Press Service/RIA-Novosti/AP

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Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin will make quick visits to Berlin and Paris tomorrow originally planned to address "economic issues." But the rapidly deteriorating situation in Syria and the divide between Russia and the West on how to respond appears certain to figure heavily in their talks. 

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There have been several days of active speculation that Russia might be ready to alter its tough anti-interventionist stance in the wake of last weekend's Houla massacre. While Russia joined other permanent United Nations Security Council members in endorsing a rare statement condemning the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad two days later, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov placed blame for the violence on both sides and Russian officials have been quick to deny that the condemnation is a sign it is softening its resistance.

Several Western states are proposing harsher sanctions against Syria. On May 29, newly elected French President François Hollande said that foreign military intervention in Syria "can't be ruled out," if it is approved by the Security Council, and indicated that he might ask Mr. Putin not to stand in the way. Speaking to an audience of students in Copenhagen today, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton upped the criticism of Russia, saying, "I have been telling (the Russians) their policy is going to help contribute to a civil war" in Syria. 

IN PICTURES: Conflict in Syria 

But today Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, responded emphatically that Russian policy toward Syria will not change under duress. Russia's position is "well-known, balanced and consistent, and completely logical," Mr. Peskov told the independent Interfax news agency. "So it is hardly appropriate to talk about this position changing under someone’s pressure." 

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