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FACTDROP: Defiant Russia Hails Syria Trip's Success


Defiant Russia Hails Syria Trip's Success

Russia has been quick to call its foreign minister's trip to Syria a success.

Πηγή: IBC
Feb 7 2012

Sergei Lavrov said his meeting with President al Assad was "very useful".

Back in Moscow, state media was keen to hail the fanfare welcome given to Mr Lavrov.

It reported Russian flags being held aloft as delighted Syrians shouted: "Thank you, Russia!"

Others have viewed the trip with less optimism and more scepticism.

Boxes were ticked: Mr Lavrov said President Assad is committed to stopping violence, is happy for the Arab League to get more involved and repeated his claim that he is ready to set a date for a referendum on a new constitution. Problem solved?

Andrei Kortunov from the New Eurasia Foundation in Moscow says it is too soon to judge.

"Russia was looking for a face-saving operation," he told Sky News. "We can't make conclusions yet over whether they have done that. The test will be whether they can bring both sides together.

"This seems unlikely after all the blood that has been spilt, all the hatred, but if negotiations do take place it will be seen as a big diplomatic victory for Russia."

Another analyst in Moscow, Sergei Markov, told Sky News the latest UN resolution on Syria is seen as a Saudi Arabian-drafted resolution on Iran, meaning Russia was not solely using its veto on the Syria issue.

He also likened the claims that Mr Assad is killing his people to the claims that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

What may seem like an extreme notion gives some insight into how the whole situation is being viewed in Russia: the West once again meddling in other countries' business for its own gain.

In wielding their vetoes on the latest UN resolution, Russia and China are exercising a now-established obstruction tactic.

There seems to be a strategic understanding that they will stand defiant together against the West, backing each others' interests to avoid looking isolated.

To pass a resolution, the West has to appease one of the two - usually the more bullish Russia - especially on issues like Iran.

According to Andrei Kortunov, it is a partnership that could go sour.

"Russia and China backed each other because they would feel uncomfortable being the only ones to veto," he explained.

"It remains to be seen whether this will develop as a strategic alliance.

"We've yet to see what price they'll have to pay for their decision. They may be forced to change their minds."

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