Russia warns against foreign military action in Syria | News | DW | 21.08.2012
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Russia warns against foreign military action in Syria

It took the Kremlin less than 24 hours to reject Obama's warning that the US could take military action to stop Syria from using chemical weapons. Both sides agree on the need to prevent any use of such weaponry.

On Tuesday, Russia reiterated its position that there must not be any unilateral military intervention in Syria's civil conflict.

"There should be no interference from the outside," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Moscow. "The only thing that foreign players should do is create conditions for the start of dialogue."

Lavrov was speaking a day after President Barack Obama said that US troops could take action if the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against rebel forces.

The Russian foreign minister also held talks in Moscow Tuesday with China's State Councillor Dai Bingguo and a Syrian government delegation. Following those talks, Lavrov stressed the determination of both Moscow and Beijing to ensure that diplomatic efforts "strictly adhere to the norms of international law and the principles contained in the UN Charter, and not to allow their violation."

Russia and China have used their powers as permanent members of the UN Security Council to veto three separate resolutions designed to increase the pressure on Assad's regime to end almost a year and a half of bloodshed.

Chemical weapons a game changer

This has frustrated the US and its Western allies, and on Monday Obama said that while he had no plans for military action at this point, that could change if the Assad regime took steps to deploy nonconventional weapons against the rebels.

"There would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons," Obama told reporters in Washington. "That would change my calculations significantly."

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Obama threatens Syria intervention

One thing that Russia, a close ally of Syria, and the West agree on is the need to prevent any use of chemical weapons.

"Chemical weapons are weapons of mass destruction. Their use causes massive harm to combatants and civilians alike," Colonel Vladimir Mandych, the director of Russia's chemical weapons watchdog, told the Interfax news agency.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that Syria's chemical weapons posed a potential danger to the entire region.

"I appeal to all groups in Syria, in particular the Assad regime not to play with fire over this," Westerwelle said.

Syria confirmed last month that it had chemical weapons and said it could use them in the case of any "external aggression."

pfd/mkg (Reuters, dpa)

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