Russia says Syria aid resolution creates 'grounds for future military action'
Syrian government forces stand near Red Crescent ambulances and vehicles that helped evacuate civilians from rebel-controlled districts that were besieged by the army, on Feb 10. AFP photoRussia said on Feb. 12 it would veto a U.N. resolution on humanitarian aid access in Syria in its current form, denouncing the draft as an effort to lay a foundation for military strikes against President Bashar al-Assad's government.
Moscow had already dismissed the Western-Arab draft debated in the Security Council on Feb. 11 as a non-starter, but a senior diplomat's unequivocal condemnation indicated Russia would seek major changes before dropping its opposition.
"Its whole purpose and aim is to create grounds for future military action against the Syrian government if some demands it includes are not met," Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said in Geneva, according to state-run news agency RIA.
"It is unacceptable to us in the form in which it is now being prepared, and we, of course, will not let it through."
At the United Nations on Feb. 11, French Ambassador Gerard Araud told reporters that Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the council Moscow was prepared to work on some kind of resolution on aid access, but not the present draft.
Obama warns Russia
Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama warned Feb. 11 that Russia would be to blame for keeping aid from desperate Syrian civilians if it blocked the U.N. resolution designed to lift the siege of Homs.
Obama also heaped pressure on the Kremlin as U.S. concern grows about the pace of Syrian compliance with a deal to hand over its chemical weapons stocks for destruction.
He branded the Kremlin as a "holdout" against a Security Council resolution which would allow the delivery of food, shelter, medical aid and water to Homs and other cities where thousands of civilians are trapped by fighting.
"There is great unanimity among most of the Security Council on this resolution," Obama said.
He said Secretary of State John Kerry had told Russia that "they cannot say that they are concerned about the well-being of the Syrian people when they are starving civilians." "It is not just the Syrians that are responsible, the Russians (are) as well if they are blocking this kind of resolution," Obama said at a White House press conference with French President Francois Hollande.
Western states want Russia to back a draft resolution which calls on all parties to "immediately end the sieges of the Old City of Homs" and other Syrian cities.
"Syria must meet its commitments and Russia has a responsibility to ensure that Syria complies," Obama said.
Since the civil war began in Syria in 2011, Russia and China have vetoed three Western-backed Security Council resolutions condemning Assad's government and threatening it with sanctions. Moscow has adamantly opposed any Western military intervention.