MOSCOW, August 27 (RIA Novosti) – Russia slammed the United States on Tuesday for allegedly using “unproven excuses” to justify military action in Syria and said Moscow is “seriously disappointed” by Washington’s decision to put off a bilateral meeting to discuss the crisis there.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday there was "undeniable" evidence of a chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of Damascus last week, and condemned the use of such weapons by President Bashar Assad's government as a “moral obscenity.”
Kerry’s statement “categorically claims that the US has the ‘undeniable proof’ about the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime, although the ‘data’ has not been presented,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.
International medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres and the Syrian opposition claimed more than 350 people died after the attack near last Wednesday near Damascus. The Assad government has denied using chemical agents, and showed on state TV what it claimed was evidence of rebel groups using such weapons.
The United Nations Security Council has not so far authorized any military intervention in the Syrian crisis. Moscow, along with Beijing, has previously vetoed three UN Security Council resolutions condemning Assad's government.
“Attempts to bypass the Security Council, to once again create artificial, unproven excuses for an armed intervention in the region are fraught with new suffering in Syria and catastrophic consequences for other countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa,” Lukashevich said in the statement posted on the Foreign Ministry's website.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Sunday President Barack Obama had told him to "prepare options for all contingencies" in deciding whether to use military force against Assad's government, the Associated Press reported.
Moscow also said it was “seriously disappointed” with the White House’s decision to put off a meeting between Russian and US diplomats scheduled for Wednesday in The Hague to discuss the situation in Syria.
“Moscow perceives Washington’s decision to postpone this meeting literally on the eve of the agreed-upon date with serious disappointment,” Lukashevich said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website.
A senior Russian diplomat said earlier Tuesday that Moscow regretted what he called the cancellation of the meeting. “[Our] partners’ decision to cancel the Russia-US bilateral meeting to discuss the matter of assembling an international conference on Syria causes regret,” Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said in a tweet.
Russia has been Syria's most important ally during the civil war that the UN says has claimed at least 100,000 lives since March 2011. Moscow has delivered some weapons to Damascus that it said were supplied under previously agreed deals.