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RF denies claims its veto is linked with arms sales to Damascus

October 05, 2011, 10:46 UTC+3
1 pages in this article

UNITED NATIONS, October 5 (Itar-Tass) — Russia has flatly denied allegations that its veto on the UN Security Council resolution on Syria that threatens with the imposition of sanctions is linked with the sale of arms to Damascus.

“Russia has taken a principled position, and those of you who work in the UN, you know that in some cases Russia has supported Security Council resolutions despite sustaining major losses in this case in terms of economic relations and arms sales to various countries on which sanctions were imposed,” Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin told reporters on Wednesday after a meeting of the UN Security Council. The Russian ambassador said he was surprised that “such accusations were voiced by a country that is injecting into this region (the Middle East) hundreds of billions of dollars in weapons and military equipment.”

According to a UN release, Churkin said it was obvious that this evening’s result was not a question of the acceptability of wording; it was a conflict of political approaches. From the start, the Russian Federation had made efforts to develop an effective reaction from the Council to events in Syria, the first of which had been reflected in a consensual presidential statement. Together with China, the Russian Federation had prepared a draft resolution, which had been changed to bear in mind the concerns of colleagues. At the heart of that text was the respect for sovereignty and non-intervention into State affairs, the unity of Syrians and an invitation to all to an even-handed dialogue geared towards achieving peace by reforming the socio-economic life of the country.

The Russian Federation could not agree with the accusatory tone against Damascus, he said, nor the ultimatum of sanctions against peaceful crisis settlement. The Russian Federation’s proposals on the non-acceptability of military intervention, among others, had not been taken into account. The collapse of President Bashar al-Assad’s Government could provoke a conflict, destabilize the region, and create a destructive impact on the Middle East. The situation could not be considered apart from the Libyan experience. He was alarmed that compliance with Security Council resolutions in Libya had been considered a model for future actions by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). It was important to see how that model had been implemented. The demand for a ceasefire had turned into a civil war, the humanitarian, social and military consequences of which had spilled beyond Libya. The arms embargo had turned into a naval blockade on west Libya. Such models should be excluded from global practice.

“We’re not advocates of the Assad regime,” he said, stressing that the violence was unacceptable, but that the reason for such dramatic events was not only rooted in the hard actions of Syrian authorities. The “radical” opposition had not hidden its extremist bent, hoping for foreign sponsors and acting outside the law. Armed groups supported by “diversionary” supplies were taking over the land, killing people who complied with law enforcement. Many Syrians did not share the demands for quick regime change. They favoured gradual change, which was starting to be implemented. The best way out of the situation was to refuse a confrontation and bring parties together to devise intra-Syrian political process.

He said the Russian Federation called on the Syrian regime to quickly implement change; free detainees who had committed no crime; start a dialogue with the opposition; and interact more with the League of Arab States. His Government would continue to work with the “patriotic” groups of Syrian opposition who had said they did not want interference in their country’s affairs. “There’s no alternative to dialogue,” he said. If the opposition believed the laws of the country were imperfect, they must take up the Government’s invitation to discuss them. If Council colleagues accepted the logic aimed at full reconciliation, the Russian Federation would continue to work on the Russian-Chinese draft which contained the vital concept of a settlement.

Speaking earlier on the motives of the UN Security Council vote on the West-supported draft resolution on Syria, which was turned down because of the veto of the permanent Security Council members - China and Russia - US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice argued on Russia’s motives for the voting. She hinted at those countries that prefer to sell arms to the Syrian regime, rather than to support the Syrian people.

“We strongly reject these allegations,” said Vitaly Churkin.

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