Russia hands over data on Turkish jet
MOSCOW / ANKARA
Russia has shared all the data about the downed Turkish jet, Lavrov says.Russia has shared all the data it has regarding the downed Turkish jet, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday, days after the U.S. and the U.K. handed over their own data.
When reminded of his earlier statements that Russia had “objective observation data” concerning the downing of the Turkish jet, Lavrov said, “We have given all data we have obtained. These are provided by our various intelligence sources.”
The statement of Lavrov came after U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone said the U.S. had given all the information it has on the downed plane to Turkish officials. Britain, which has a military base in Greek Cyprus, also gave records to Turkey on the downed jet last week.
The foreign minister also accused the West of effectively trying to use blackmail to secure a new U.N. Security Council resolution that could allow for the use of force in Syria.
The Security Council is debating a new resolution on Syria as international envoy Kofi Annan’s plan for halting the fighting appears dead and the violence in Syria escalates. Lavrov was scheduled to meet Annan later yesterday.
Russia has opposed international military intervention in Syria. Such a step has been all but ruled out publicly by Western nations, but the text for a Western-backed resolution circulated by Britain that calls for sanctions would leave the possibility of military enforcement under the U.N. Charter’s Chapter 7 open. Russia has submitted a rival text. The debate comes as a mandate for a U.N. observer force expires on July 20, and Lavrov insisted that the West was using the deadline as a bargaining chip.
“To our great regret, there are elements of blackmail,” The Associated Press quoted Lavrov as saying at a news conference. “We are being told that if you do not agree to pass the resolution under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, then we shall refuse to extend the mandate of the monitoring mission.”
“We consider it to be an absolutely counterproductive and dangerous approach, since it is unacceptable to use monitors as bargaining chips,” he said. Lavrov also reiterated Moscow’s position, saying it was unrealistic to try to persuade Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign.
“He won’t leave, not because we are defending him, but simply because a very significant part of the population in Syria stands behind him,” he said. Comments by Annan last week indicated he favors the British resolution draft and it was unclear if he would have any significant leverage to exert on Russia during his two-day trip to Moscow, which also includes a meeting with President Vladimir Putin today.