Human rights organization Amnesty International advised Russia against blocking international efforts to end ongoing violence in Syria and to join a binding UN Security Council resolution.
The UN Security Council is discussing a new draft resolution on Syria proposed by the Arab League, which urges President Bashar al-Assad to step down. Russia along with China already vetoed a European-drafted resolution containing the threat of sanctions against Syria in October 2011.
“Russia’s threats to abort a binding UN Security Council resolution on Syria for the second time are utterly irresponsible. Russia bears a heavy responsibility for allowing the brutal crackdown on legitimate dissent in Syria to continue unchecked,” Jose Luis Diaz, Amnesty International's representative to the UN, said.
“Russia must work with other Security Council members to pass a strong and legally binding resolution that will help to end the bloodshed and human rights violations in Syria once and for all,” he added.
Russia, one of Assad’s firm supporters during the uprising against his regime, indicated earlier this week that it would veto the draft resolution calling on Assad to step down and providing for “further measures” should he refuse. Moscow has proposed its own draft, which the West criticized as being too soft.
Some Western countries have been trying to persuade Moscow to support a resolution effectively authorizing a military operation, but Russia has repeatedly insisted that the Western drive for a stronger crackdown on Syria is preparation for a “Libyan scenario.”
In Libya, rebels ousted and killed long-standing dictator Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011 after a months-long military standoff in which they received assistance from NATO forces.
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.