07:09 GMT +3 hours28 November 2014
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Moscow Calls on U.S., EU to Lift Sanctions against Syria

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Russia has called on the United States and the European Union to immediately lift all unilateral sanctions their imposed in regard to Syria, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said.

Russia has called on the United States and the European Union to immediately lift all unilateral sanctions their imposed in regard to Syria, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said.

On July 23 the EU passed the 17th set of sanctions against Syria, including a tougher arms embargo, in response to escalating violence in the Arab country. Russia said the new sanctions amount to an actual blockade of Syria, which contradicts the decisions of UN Security Council and the Geneva Agreements.

Speaking at the UN Security Council meeting on Syria on Thursday, Churkin said that Russia calls on “the countries, which imposed anti-Syrian sanctions, to lift them off immediately.”

“These sanctions, imposed bypassing the UN Security Council, have nothing in common with real efforts to settle the Syrian crisis and only complicate lives of ordinary citizens and deprive them of the possibility to satisfy their own elementary needs and comprehensively employ human rights,” Churkin said.

Western powers say that the bulk of responsibility for the bloodshed lies with the Syrian government and insist on President Bashar al-Assad’s resignation as the only way to end the crisis, which has already claimed up to 20,000 lives according to Syrian activists.

Russia has foiled Western attempts to force Assad from power, vetoing three UN Security Council resolutons against him. Moscow says Syrians themselves should decide on Assad's future in the country’s politics.