Russia has remained a staunch supporter of Syria's President Assad, blocking UN efforts to impose an international arms embargo.
Russia has a strong financial stake in the survival of the Assad regime. But it also opposes Western intervention on principle – particularly in the wake of NATO's Libya campaign.
The Security Council meets today to discuss Tbilisi's allegation that Russia shot down its spy aircraft. Moscow says the drone's flight over the breakaway region of Abkhazia violates a cease-fire.