Moscow has voiced “regret” over a US decision to put off bilateral talks over Syria. Russia has sought to placate calls for military action over the alleged use of chemical weapons, saying there is no evidence of the Assad regime’s complicity.
The US government announced it was postponing bilateral talks
with Russia late Monday, citing “ongoing consultations” over the
Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons.
Russian and American officials had been scheduled to meet in The
Hague on Wednesday for bilateral talks on the Syrian conflict.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov tweeted a
response to the move Tuesday morning, expressing concern over
“It is a pity that our western partners have decided to cancel the bilateral US-Russian meeting to discuss calls for an international conference on Syria,” Gatilov wrote on Twitter. He added in a later post that discussing terms for a political solution were needed now more than ever in the face of possible military intervention in Syria.
Russia on Tuesday warned a military intervention in Syria could
have "catastrophic consequences" for the whole region and
called on the international community to show "prudence."
"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," foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich
said in a statement. "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," he added.
Foreign Affairs Committee chairman of the Russian Duma, Aleksey Pushkov also posted on his Twitter, alleging the US had already made the decision to strike Syria and they had gone too far.
Russia has no plans to strengthen its fleet in the region at the
Mediterranean sea facility, the naval base at Tartus, a
source from Russia’s Defense Ministry told Itar-Tass news agency,
adding that withdrawal plans have also not been considered.
However , the source did not exclude the possibility that one
more military vessel might be transferred to the region from
Russia’s Black Sea fleet and one nuclear submarine added from the
North Sea fleet.
A number of western countries including France, the US and the UK
have condemned President Bashar Assad’s government for last
week’s alleged chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb and
called for a response, hinting at possible military action. On
Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin told British Prime
Minster David Cameron in a phone conversation that there was
still no evidence the Assad government was behind the attack.
However, Cameron insisted that Assad’s forces were behind the
“chemical weapons” attack, saying that the Syrian
opposition did not have the facilities to orchestrate such an
attack. Cameron also cited the Syrian government’s delay in
allowing a team of UN experts to examine the site as an
indication that it had something to hide.
Washington has also seen an increase in rhetoric, urging action
against the Assad government. Samantha Power, the US Ambassador
to the UN, decried the Assad government for the attack on her
Twitter account, and demanded accountability.
Haunting images of entire families dead in their beds. Verdict is clear: Assad has used CWs against civilians in violation of int'l norm.— Samantha Power (@AmbassadorPower) August 27, 2013
Meanwhile, the UN weapons inspectors are due to start their second day of investigations in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, where the toxic attack happened last Wednesday. The team’s convoy of vehicles came under fire from unknown assailants Monday as they visited the area.
In spite of the sniper attack, the team managed to collect
samples for analysis and gather witness testimonies at a local
hospital. Contradicting claims from the US and UK that the probe
was too late to yield accurate results, the UN stressed the
mission was still valid, although almost a week has passed since
the supposed attack.
The alleged attack took place last Wednesday in an eastern suburb of Syria’s capital. Media published conflicting reports on the death toll, ranging from “dozens” to over 1,300 dead. French charity Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) put the death toll at about 355.