Russia Presses On With Diplomacy, Despite U.S. Provocations and Threats
Oct. 7, 2016 (EIRNS)—Russian officials continue to engage in intensive diplomatic activity related to the Syrian war, despite ongoing provocative behavior and commentary coming from the Washington war party.
Yesterday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke by phone with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, during which both men indicated they were prepared to consider the proposal by UN Envoy for Syria Steffan de Mistura, who said that if al-Nusra and allied terrorists wished to leave Aleppo with their weapons, he would personally be willing to accompany them out of the city.
“If al-Nusra with all its armaments leaves for Idlib,” Lavrov told Tass, “we would be prepared to support this approach and will be ready to ask the Syrian government to agree to this.” Other groups that have merged with al-Nusra in recent weeks, Lavrov continued, would have to distance themselves from it and sign an official commitment to doing so.
Unacceptable to Russia is the resolution proposed by French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, which calls for a ceasefire and establishment of a no-fly zone over Aleppo. Ayrault met with Lavrov yesterday in Moscow, and then flew to Washington to meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, after which he announced that the resolution, cosponsored by Spain, would come up for a vote on Saturday at the UN Security Council. Today, de Mistura briefed the UNSC on his proposal behind closed doors.
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters today that the French resolution is “very hastily put together, and I frankly believe that this is designed not to make progress” in ending the current stalemate, “but to cause a Russian veto,” Associated Press reported. It was “unprecedented,” he added, that the 15-member Security Council would ask one of the five permanent members to limit its activities—that is, that Russia stop its military flights. “I cannot possibly see how we can let this resolution pass,” he said.
John Kerry isn’t helping the situation. This morning, RT reported, he effectively charged that Syrian and Russian armed forces are intentionally targeting civilians and hospitals in Aleppo, and warned that such actions should be the subject of a war crimes tribunal. Russia’s and Syria’s actions in Aleppo are “beyond accidental” he said, and a “targeted strategy to terrorize civilians.”