UNITED NATIONS, April 24 (RIA Novosti) - Providing assistance to Syria’s armed opposition that is seeking to change the regime is dangerous, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations said in the UN Security Council on Wednesday.
“Should the desire for a war to the bitter end, encouraged by the world community’s aggressive minority, prevail, this would further aggravate the situation and increase terrorist activity, including in neighboring countries,” Vitaly Churkin said at a Council meeting on the Middle East.
Churkin said he in particular meant the readiness of a number of countries to provide illegal groups in Syria with weapons that “could eventually settle down in the hands of terrorists.”
He also criticized the European Union’s recent decision to ease sanctions against Syria, saying oil and oil products from opposition-occupied territories would be sold and the “financial flows would go to the strongest armed groups,” including, according to Churkin, radicals and extremists who hold many oil deposits.
The EU Council on Monday eased the 2011 oil embargo on Syria, allowing EU member countries to buy oil from rebel-controlled areas of the country and invest in the energy sector in those regions. It said the move was designed to “help the civilian population and support the opposition” in Syria.
Russia has already criticized the EU decision as "counterproductive" and leading to "a deeper deadlock in the internal Syrian dialog."
The Syrian authorities on Tuesday called the EU decision to allow the import of Syrian oil and its derivatives through exclusive transactions with rebels an “illegal” move and “an act of aggression.”
Oil production in Syria has declined almost 60 percent since the start of the uprising against President Bashar Assad’s regime in March 2011. According to the latest US government data, daily output stood at about 153,000 barrels per day in October 2012.
Syrian rebels control most of the oil-rich regions of the country.
About 70,000 people have died in Syria since the beginning of the uprising against Assad, according to UN figures. Russia, along with China, has faced widespread condemnation over its refusal to approve UN sanctions against Assad’s regime.
Moscow has repeatedly stated it has no interest in seeing Assad remain in power, but is rather concerned that unilateral sanctions would create a power vacuum that would lead to more violence.