Russia believes the UN General Assembly’s resolution on Syria is an attempt to impose a form of political settlement on the country, Russia’s envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin said on Thursday.
The UN General Assembly on Thursday adopted a non-binding resolution condemning Syria’s authorities for human rights violations and calling on President Bashar al-Assad to step down. In the 193-member Assembly, 137 countries voted for the resolution and 12 against with 17 abstentions.
Russia and China voted against the resolution, which was similar to one the two countries vetoed on February 4 in the UN Security Council triggering angry reaction from the West. Belarus, Zimbabwe, Cuba, North Korea, Iran and a few other states also said “no” to the draft on Thursday.
Churkin said after the vote the draft resolution was “unbalanced” and reflected “the tendencies that cause our concerns: attempts to isolate the Syrian leadership, reject any contacts with it and impose a political settlement formula from outside.”
The Russian envoy also said Russia had voted against because its amendments to the draft resolution had not been adopted.
In particular, he said, Russia proposed including in the resolution a call on “all opposition forces in Syria to distance themselves from violent armed groups” and on those groups to “stop attacking residential neighborhoods and government institutions,” as well as a call on government troops to leave cities and towns.
When the amendments were not considered, Churkin said, Russia had no other choice than to vote against the draft.
Syria on Sunday rejected an Arab League resolution calling for a joint UN-Arab peacekeeping force in the country as well as tightening economic sanctions on Damascus. The resolution came a week after Russia and China blocked a UN Security Council resolution on Syria to prevent the repetition of “the Libyan scenario.”
The Arab League has been at the forefront of regional efforts to end violence in Syria. The group put forward a plan that Assad agreed to in December and then sent monitors to Syria. The League withdrew its monitoring mission from Syria in January because the regime failed to end the bloodshed.
At least 5,400 people have been killed in the Syrian government's 11-month crackdown on protesters, according to the UN. Syrian authorities blame the violence on armed gangs affiliated with al-Qaeda and say more than 2,000 soldiers and police have been killed.
The European Parliament on Thursday adopted a resolution strongly urging Russia to immediately stop selling arms and military equipment to Damascus. The resolution called on Russia to join the international consensus and enable the UN Security Council to help resolve the country’s months-long conflict.
The Parliament stressed that as a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia needs to take its responsibility for international peace and security seriously.
Syria, the largest importer of Russian weapons in the Middle East, recently signed contracts for the supply of 24 MiG-29M/M2 fighter jets and eight Buk-M2E air-defense systems. A contract for the supply of Bastion anti-ship missile systems armed with SS-N-26 Yakhont supersonic cruise missiles is currently being implemented.
In early February, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia’s arms supplies to Syria would not affect the balance of power in the Middle East.