Russia: The time for Syrian democratic reforms has come (+video)
Russia's foreign minister is meeting with Assad in Damascus today, just days after Moscow blocked UN action against the regime.
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is in Syria today to meet with President Bashar al-Assad, just days after Russia and China blocked a United Nations Security Council effort to take stronger actions against Syria.
Mr. Assad’s supporters lined the streets of Damascus, waving flags – including a few Russian flags – to welcome Mr. Lavrov to the city, Reuters reports. Russia has been a staunch voice of opposition to international intervention in Syria. The Russian foreign ministry said Lavrov is there seeking “the swiftest stabilization of the situation in Syria on the basis of the swiftest implementation of democratic reforms whose time has come.”
In the days since its veto of the Security Council resolution, Russia has been in “full damage-control mode” amid an onslaught of international criticism, The Christian Science Monitor reports. Russian analysts defend Moscow's opposition, by saying the Western-backed resolution lacked a strategy for the “state collapse and social catastrophe” that is likely to follow if Assad is overthrown.
IN PICTURES: The censure of Syria
"The USA and the West insisted that the resolution had to be passed, allowing outside interference, in order to stop the massacre," of Syrian civilians, says Pyotr Romanov, a political analyst with the official RIA-Novosti news agency in Moscow. "But has anyone given any thought to what happens next? Are you really trying to tell us that good moral forces will come to power? People with no blood on their hands, who will bring anything decent, much less democracy? Please."
"We were not against the resolution, but we wanted such a clause inserted to ensure that no military interference in Syria was intended, but our demand was not met," says [Andrei Klimov, deputy chair of the State Duma's international affairs committee]. "We considered this to be a matter of principle, and we still do. . . Russia feels a responsibility toward Syria, including military and technical cooperation, and our agreements stipulate mutual assistance in difficult situations. We don't have many such agreements with foreign states."