Why Russia blocked UN mission on Syria

Western countries and Russia share a number of issues in opinion. First, whether to apply any sanctions against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president. Secondly, the parties cannot agree on a format for the presence of observers during the civil war. Russia and China believe that a team of civilian and military specialists should monitor the ceasefire and conduct independent investigations into human rights abuses. In addition, Russia wants to include up to 30 of its military personnel in Syria. It is promised that they will be liaison officers, military observers and staff officers.

The position of the United States and the West is based on a fundamental review of mission objectives. Western leaders want to retrain mission members as negotiators and help Assad and his adversaries start peace talks. As help, these negotiators expect to put some pressure on the Syrian president to speed up an end to the bloodshed. One of the conditions imposed on Assad is the withdrawal of artillery and heavy equipment from settlements.

The latest resolution, blocked by Russia and proposed by Western countries, just contained demands for an end to the war under the threat of sanctions. The UN Security Council by resolution gave Assad a ten-day period to leave settlements, and in case of failure to do so, promised to impose diplomatic and economic sanctions. However, the resolution did not rule out the use of military force. The latter situation did not like the representatives of Russia and China. According to our Chinese colleagues, pressure on one of the belligerents alone will exacerbate the crisis and spit it beyond Syria.

In the end, Russia and China’s principled position on this issue was endorsed by the Security Council, and a generally accepted text of the resolution was agreed upon calling for peaceful negotiations both sides. This approach suits both sides and will allow agreement on the extension of the UN monitoring mission in Syria.

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