|Moscow scoffs at ‘artificial excuses’ to justify military adventure in Syria, warns of catastrophe
Russia warned that a military intervention in Syria could have “catastrophic consequences'' for the region and called on the international community to show “prudence'' in the face of chemical weapons allegations.
“Attempts to bypass the Security Council, once again to create artificial groundless excuses for a military intervention in the region are fraught with new suffering in Syria and catastrophic consequences for other countries of the Middle East and North Africa,'' a foreign ministry spokesman said, AFP reports.
“We are calling on our American partners and all members of the world community to demonstrate prudence [and] strict observance of international law, especially the fundamental principles of the UN Charter,'' ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement.
Earlier, deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov said that Moscow regretted Monday's decision by the US to postpone a meeting on Syria, as Western powers mulled military action over last week's chemical attack in Damascus. The meeting was due to take place at The Hague later in the week.
“It arouses regret that our partners decided to cancel the bilateral meeting'' involving senior diplomats from both sides, Gatilov said on Twitter.
“Working out the parameters of a political solution in Syria would have been especially helpful right now, when military action is hanging over this country,'' Gatilov said.
In such a climate, it was especially important to work in concert to try to organize the repeatedly postponed peace conference bringing together the Damascus regime and the rebels, Lukashevich said.
“However, the United States' decision to postpone the meeting in The Hague is sending precisely the opposite signal to the opposition, encouraging their intransigence as they await outside intervention,'' he said.
Russia has said it believes rebels were behind the August 21 incident and has warned any military action without UN approval would violate international law.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov condemned the “hysteria'' over the claimed chemical attack and said the West had yet to come up with proof that President Bashar al-Assad’s forces were responsible.
He also said Russia would not get involved in a military conflict in Syria.
Pro-Kremlin Russian newspaper Izvestia Monday published an interview with Assad who ridiculed as “nonsense'' the idea of chemical weapons use and warned the United States of failure if it attacked Syria.
Russian officials are comparing the possible use of force against Syria to the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, which was vehemently opposed by Moscow as based on flawed intelligence that Saddam Hussein's regime possessed weapons of mass destruction.
“Deja-vu,'' Alexei Pushkov, the head of the Russian parliament's foreign affairs committee wrote on Twitter.
“It feels like in the White House it's still [George W.] Bush, [Dick] Cheney and [Donald] Rumsfeld and in Downing Street Tony Blair,'' he said, referring to the former US president, vice president, defense secretary and British premier during the Iraq war. “The faces change. But not the politics,'' he added.