Russia slams sanctions, hardens over Iran, Syria
MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, right, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speak before a Security Council meeting in the Gorki residence outside Moscow. AP photoRussia presented a hard line to the West over the twin Middle East crises on Jan. 13 by slamming a proposed oil embargo on Iran and rebuffing any stronger action against Syria.
A top foreign ministry official called both sets of proposed measures a flagrant attempt to impose “regime change” in nations that in recent history have had poor relations with Europe and the United States. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said the proposed oil embargo on Iran over its nuclear programme “will unquestionably be perceived by the international community as an attempt at changing the regime in Iran.” His comments came as European governments moved closer to an agreement that would give energy companies six months to phase out their contracts with Iran. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner also pressed the issue this week with the leaders of China and won a promise from Japan for the world’s third-biggest economy to cut back its Iranian oil purchases further.
Moscow has itself backed four rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions against its close trading partner and this week expressed “regret and worry” at Tehran’s decision to begin uranium enrichment at a new nuclear plant. But Russia has urged restraint in the current escalation and is still promoting a peace plan that would reward Iran for cooperating with foreign inspectors by gradually easing existing sanctions.
Gatilov argued that crippling punishment against Iran would only inflame conflict and hinted at Russia’s willingness to veto any such future attempts at the Security Council. “This line of action undermines the international community’s efforts at resolving the Iranian nuclear problem,” he said. “This line of action undermines the international community’s efforts at resolving the Iranian nuclear problem,” he said.