ASTANA — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Thursday vowed there would be no UN Security Council mandate for outside intervention in Syria, indicating Moscow would use its veto to block any military action.
“There will not be a Security Council mandate for outside intervention, I guarantee you that,” Lavrov told reporters on the sidelines of a trip to Kazakhstan by President Vladimir Putin.
He said that allowing any outside military intervention against Syria to go ahead would be playing into the hands of the anti-regime armed opposition and discouraging any hope of a negotiated solution.
“There are sides in the Syria conflict, especially the so called (opposition) Syrian National Council, who are saying no negotiations with the regime, only continued armed battle until the Security Council gives a mandate for outside intervention,” said Lavrov.
Several Western and Gulf Arab states have refused to rule out the use of outside military force to end escalating bloodshed that the West blames on the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Russia has refused to squarely blame the violence on the regime, insisting that the armed opposition is also responsible.
Lavrov reaffirmed his plan to hold an international peace conference on the Syrian crisis that would include all the major players including, most controversially, Iran.
The United States has already expressed deep scepticism over the plan as it accuses Iran of encouraging the Syrian regime’s crackdown against protestors.
Lavrov said that the meeting was needed to overcome differences over how the peace plan of UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan should be implemented.
“We want to overcome this divergence in approaches as to how the Annan plan should be carried out. It can be carried out only with unity of all outside players.”
Lavrov said that the idea of the meeting had so far been discussed with China, France and Iran.
“So far the feedback has been positive,” he said.
Lavrov added that negotiations were an essential counter to calls for regime change in Syria and reiterated Russia’s opposition to any forced ousting from power of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
“Either we gather everyone with influence at the negotiating table or once again we depart into ideology… where it is declared shamelessly that everything is the fault of the regime, while everyone else are angels and therefore the regime should be changed,” he said.