The United States wants Russia to get more involved in the settlement of the Syrian conflict, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
“Our view is that the Russians should be applying maximum pressure and maximum influence on [President Bashar] Assad and his regime,” Nuland told a daily press briefing on Monday.
“They have influence that we don’t have, since they have had these military relationships for so long, and we’d like to see them use it to pressure Assad to stop, starting by declaring that they will not ship any more weapons or any other things to this regime,” she said.
“We would like to see the Russian side do more… The Russians have been concerned that this situation devolves into a deeper civil war, a proxy war, that it spills beyond borders, that extremists hijack the situation,” Nuland said.
“All of those concerns have been expressed to us by the Russian side; and our message back is that if you don’t help us put more pressure on Assad, that’s exactly what we’re going to have, and that if you don’t want that situation to occur, then join us in the Security Council in putting pressure on the regime,” she said.
The Syrian conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives, according to various Syrian opposition groups. The UN puts the death toll at 20,000-30,000 people.
The West is pushing for President Assad’s ouster while Russia and China are trying to prevent outside interference in Syria, saying that the Assad regime and the opposition are both to blame for the bloodshed.