Feeling cheated on Libya, Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev vowed to block any move by the West to slap sanctions on Syria even as the Kremlin prepared to mediate between the authorities and the opposition in the violence-hit country.
Mr. Medvedev said Moscow would veto a U.N. Security Council resolution that would censure Syria, even if it did not call for economic or military punishment of the Syrian regime. “What I am not ready to support is a resolution similar to the one on Libya because it is my deep conviction that Resolution 1973, which was not a bad one, has been turned into a piece of paper that is being used to provide cover for a senseless military operation,” said the Russian leader in an interview with the Financial Times posted on the Kremlin website on Monday.
Mr. Medvedev said had he known what the West was up to in Libya he would have ordered the veto of Resolution 1973, which imposed a no-fly zone in that country.
“If my [Western] colleagues had told me ‘you at least abstain and we are going to bomb [Libya]', I would have issued different instructions to our U.N. envoy.”
Mr. Medvedev said he did not want to “take on his conscience” the adoption of a Libya-type resolution against Syria. “The resolution may say: ‘We condemn the use of force in Syria' and after that planes will take off into the air. We will be told: ‘Well, it says there that we condemn so we condemned, dispatching a number of bombers there.”
Meanwhile, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that a delegation of the Syrian opposition will visit Moscow for talks on June 27. He said Moscow would urge the Syrian opposition to drop its refusal to negotiate with the authorities and renounce “attempts to get the world community come and help solve problems with a punishing sword”.
“Russia will do its best to prevent the situation in Syria from going down the Libyan scenario,” said the Russian Foreign Minister.