Answering questions in a press-conference in Skolkovo, Russia, President Medvedev said that Russia will not support a U.N Security Council resolution against Syria “analogous” to the one that allowed NATO militarily intervene in Libya.
“I will not support such a resolution, even if my friends and allies beg me,” Medvedev said. Medvedev criticized NATO for “manipulating” the U.N. 1973 Resolution and exceeding the U.N. mandate.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said earlier that France and Britain were close to getting enough votes to adopt a resolution against Syria for brutally cracking down on protesters, but the categorical statement by Medvedev makes the probability of reaching an agreement at the Security Council on Syria almost non-existent.
Speaking at a press-conference in Baghdad, Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister who has been an outspoken critic of Western intervention in Libya and elsewhere, said that it was “unacceptable to try to impose from outside some formulas of state and political system in this or that country . . . [and try to]settle such disputes through the use of brutal force.” Lavrov later added that “efforts to multiply the Libyan experience in other countries and regions are extremely dangerous, whether it is in Yemen, Syria or Bahrain.”
When the resolution on Libya was reached, Russia abstained from the vote and Medvedev publicly expressed his tacit approval of the Security Council stance against Libya, going as far as to chastise his political ally Vladimir Putin for characterizing the 1973 resolution as “a medieval call for crusade.”
However, what Medvedev sees as the betrayal of the U.N. mandate by NATO members made him leery of Western intentions. Medvedev supported the imposition of a no-fly zone to protect civilians from Qaddafi’s forces, but NATO’s blatant attempts to topple the regime of Qaddafi must have angered him.
In his comments on Western intervention in the Middle East and North Africa, Medvedev looked more like Putin than a reformed, western-oriented leader the West wants to see in Medvedev. Speaking about Syria, he said that Assad should be given a chance to implement his “announced reforms” and that “it is necessary to let states themselves choose their own path of development and give the Syrian leadership the opportunity to resolve the internal problems that exist there.”
That statement is apparently a scary one, given the Syrian leadership’s brutal manner of trying to “resolve” its “internal problems.” It is also important to note, however, that Russia holds substantial strategic interests in Syria, which most likely played an important role in forming the views of Medvedev and Lavrov.