Russians 'stubbornly dug in' on Syria, U.S. official says
Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin
August 17th, 2012
02:21 AM ET

Russians 'stubbornly dug in' on Syria, U.S. official says

By Jill Dougherty

Wringing its hands over the escalating violence in Syria, Russia on Thursday said the international community should set a deadline for the Syrian government and opposition fighters to stop fighting.

Moscow's envoy to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, said countries that have failed to bring the killing to an end should make "a joint or parallel appeal to all the parties of the Syrian conflict that they end violence as soon as possible by a certain point in time."

In spite of the fact that almost 200 Syrians now are dying every day in the civil war, the Russian diplomat insisted a political solution is still possible and said other countries should urge the government of President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition to appoint negotiators who could establish a transitional governing body for Syria.

If that sounds familiar, it should; the proposal is part of a six-point plan put forward by former U.N. special envoy on Syria, Kofi Annan, who quit this month after failing to stop the bloodshed.

Moscow and Beijing have vetoed three U.N. Security Council resolutions criticizing the regime and threatening sanctions, and the Council is at an impasse.

With its monitors in Syria under fire and unable to move about the country to document the violence, the Security Council decided Thursday to end their dangerous mission.

The Russian envoy, however, blamed Security Council members who called for the observers to pull out.

"We believe that those members of the Council who insisted that UNSMIS can't continue," he told reporters, "did not really show commitment to ending hostilities and to working toward a political settlement in Syria."

But, in Washington, State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, said the monitors' mission now makes no sense.

"We don't think that they're able to do the job that they were sent there to do," Nuland said, "which was to monitor a cease-fire which we don't have and to be able to move freely around the country, which they haven't been able to do."

Russia is calling for a meeting at the United Nations in New York on Friday to discuss all of this, but Nuland threw cold water on that idea too, telling reporters at her daily briefing: "Frankly, we're not sure we understand the objective and the goal of the meeting."

"As we've said all along, to have meetings for meetings' sake is not what any of us needs to do. What we need to do is have meetings that support the Syrian people and support an end to the bloodshed."

Privately, a U.S. official told CNN the Russians are "stubbornly dug in" on Syria. Other U.S. and European officials say Moscow appears convinced that if al-Assad falls, the country could spiral into even more chaos.

If that happens they say, Russian President Vladimir Putin appears ready to blame the West, and particularly the United States, for it.

One European official adds that a possible motivation for Moscow's contrarian approach may be an attempt to prove to the world that Russia still wields diplomatic power and influence. But this official says it's not working.

"Their computer isn't updated," the official says, "and they are jeopardizing their position in the Middle East."

Under-Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, meanwhile, was in Moscow Thursday for what the State Department described as "very serious" discussions on both Syria and Iran. But, other than calling the talks "direct and fulsome," the Department noted no progress.

One Russian opposition member told CNN that Moscow's approach on Syria seems to be "do the opposite of what the United States wants."

"If the U.S. wants the Kremlin to do something good on Syria," Vladimir V. Kara-Murza, member of the federal council of the Republican Party of Russia, jests, "maybe Washington should do something bad."

Filed under: Russia • Syria
soundoff (41 Responses)
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    May 18, 2013 at 9:15 am | Reply
  2. jfb

    suka Russia

    August 19, 2012 at 5:22 am | Reply
  3. M Houston

    Does anyone really believe that Russians (and Chinese) will ever stop being the conniving
    self serving critters that they have always been? It is absolutely fruitless to expect them to
    cooperate in helping to solve any international crisis. They simply don't care as long as they
    get what they perceive to be to their advantage.

    August 18, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Reply
    • Sodomite


      August 18, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Reply
  4. EvilWorm

    Russia is understandably concerned that their nuclear weapons stored at their only warm water port in Syria are vulnerable.

    So, move them back to Russia.

    August 18, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Reply
    • Sodomite

      Why should they? Because "we" say so?

      August 18, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Reply
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    August 18, 2012 at 1:01 am | Reply
  6. Gorny Park Bum

    long live Pu$$yRiot..on sale on iTunes...They sing a single...Giid by Tartus...we will miss you

    August 17, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Reply
  7. George Patton

    Vitaly Chiurkin has the right ideas. The world should listen to him instead of the very arrogant and self righteous Hilary Clinton and her belligerent sabre rattling!!!

    August 17, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Reply
    • Jack

      A little twit not even an American uses the name of one the most honored and famous Generals of the US. You are simply not worthy.

      August 18, 2012 at 11:12 am | Reply
      • Sodomite

        Hope you like my name even more, you miserable little pr!ck.

        August 18, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  8. gazza

    Russia is stopping another Libya or Iraq disaster where a lot more people were killed than in Syria. Meanwhile the US is supporting AlQaeda terrorists again.

    August 17, 2012 at 6:20 am | Reply
  9. African Child

    Russia still wields the moral influence here.
    OIC and Arab League have finally ridiculed themselves by taking a US backed Saudi Arabia presented resolution by suspending Syria which is being privately celebrated by Israel as the Muslims have become weaker in any negotiations for Golan Heights or Palestinians who are seeking independence that will surely be vetoed by US.
    None of the outside parties in this matter truely love the Syrians, its all about geopolitical control of the Middle East and Arabs.

    August 17, 2012 at 4:32 am | Reply
    • Shangheyed

      Russian and china will never keep another country from using tanks against its own people... otherwise would call their own governments out for using tanks and warships against there own people as each has done for decades. As soon as CHina and Russia vote in favor or any means that keeps Syria from killing its own people.... the emperor has no clothes.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:41 am | Reply
      • Jim Carry

        you have no idea what are you talking about ..tanks, warships against its own people, give me just 1 example ?

        August 18, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • EvilWorm

      yawn.......who really cares?

      When arabs fight arabs, Israel wins!
      When arabs fight muslims, Israel wins!
      When muslims fight muslims, Israel wins!

      August 18, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Reply
  10. RussianSpetznaz

    Of course, Russia is wrong.
    Freedom killings
    Democratic terrorists
    Civilian – care with bombs
    is right.

    August 17, 2012 at 4:22 am | Reply
    • OffTheWorldPolitics

      You mean like Grozny and Georgia? Or the reprisals during WWII? Maybe your referring to forced collectivization?

      August 17, 2012 at 5:14 am | Reply
  11. Nicholaster

    Only political method can solve this other than violance

    August 17, 2012 at 3:43 am | Reply
  12. Mark

    Maybe all sides of influence should sit down to some good food, wine and music and discuss ways to resolve this peacefully, isn't that what we're all striving for? or perhaps not.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:32 am | Reply
  13. rightospeak

    My comment that Shawna Shepherd is manipulating the comments about Ryan just vanished here. Free press ???

    August 17, 2012 at 3:32 am | Reply
  14. rightospeak

    At least someone with common sense that wants to stop the killings.

    August 17, 2012 at 2:59 am | Reply

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