Russia Says UN Syria Sanctions Possible Only in Event of Noncompliance
MOSCOW, September 24 (RIA Novosti) – A senior Russian diplomat suggested Tuesday that sanctions against Syria could be included in a contentious UN resolution only as a possible response to noncompliance with international demands regarding Damascus' chemical weapons, not as an "automatic" consequence.
Moscow and Washington are expected to clash at the UN General Assembly later this week over the terms of a Security Council resolution to enforce Syria's planned handover and gradual destruction of its chemical arsenal. One point of contention has been the inclusion of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which allows for the use of military force "as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security."
"We are not talking about passing the resolution in line with Chapter VII," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told lawmakers in the State Duma, parliament's lower house.
"There can be no talk of any automatic application of sanctions or, especially, [use of] force. Chapter VII can be mentioned only as an element of a possible set of measures … if any actions such as refusal to cooperate or noncompliance with obligations are identified" when Syria enacts decisions made by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), he said.
Russia has insisted that the OPCW should take the lead in determining Syria's course of action in dismantling its chemical arsenal, with the UN resolution serving as an enforcement mechanism. However, Moscow has also long opposed military intervention in Syria – an option Washington has not ruled out.
On Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said on state-run television that the US and its allies were insisting on Chapter VII because they are more interested in regime change than battling chemical weapons. He also accused Washington of "starting to blackmail" Moscow over the resolution by indicating that if Russia does not support Chapter VII, the US would wind down the work of the OPCW.
Ryabkov told reporters Tuesday that Moscow hoped the text of the UN resolution would be finalized by the end of the week, though there was no "100 percent guarantee."
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