The U.S. and its allies insist that Syria must face consequences for failing to comply with Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan. But Russia opposes the use of sanctions or force.
The opposition Syrian National Council issued an ultimatum of its own as the UN Security Council prepared to vote on extending the mandate of the UN's cease-fire monitors in Syria.
President Putin offered no indication that Russia will support a UN Security Council resolution backed by the US, Britain, and France that would open the door for military intervention.
People fled from Syria's capital as rebels exchanged fire with President Bashar Assad's military in some of the worst fighting of the conflict. Thousands of people have lost their lives since the crisis began 16 months ago.
The West says that any extension of the UN mandate for monitors in Syria must have teeth. But Russia is categorically rejecting any resolution that foresees enforcement of punitive measures.
The Russian foreign minister claims the West is threatening not to renew a UN observer mission in Syria if Russia doesn't vote for a resolution that could lead to military intervention.
The Syrian ambassador to Iraq announced he was resigning his post and joining the opposition, pointing to signs that Assad's regime may be deteriorating.
Underscoring its central role, Russia met with opposition Syrian National Council in Moscow today to discuss a new proposal.
Turmoil will likely continue after Syrian opposition groups rejected a compromise plan for a new transitional government.
World powers agreed Saturday on a plan for ending Syria’s violence – but only by sweeping under the rug unresolved differences over the role Bashar al-Assad should play in a political transition.