As the UN Security Council
resolution readied two separate rebukes on Syria on Thursday, Russia stepped up its threat to veto both a Western-backed
draft condemning the country's crackdown on protesters as well as a push to report Syria for covert atomic work.
"Russia is against any UN Security Council resolution on Syria,"
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told
journalists at a briefing in Moscow.
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The comments come as Turkish officials said on Thursday that more than 1,700
Syrians have fled to Turkey
to escape the Syrian army crackdown, in
another sign that Assad's struggle with protesters is disturbing Syria's
However, Lukashevich said that "We do not believe the Syrian issue is a subject for consideration by
the Security Council, let alone the adoption of some kind of
Britain, France, Germany and Portugal have floated a new draft
resolution condemning Syria as the United States and its allies seek to
raise the pressure on President Bashar Assad's government to end its
violent crackdown on protesters.
Lukashevich stopped short of saying Russia would use its veto power as a
permanent UN Security Council member to doom any Syria resolution if
it comes to a vote.
Some diplomats have said they thought Moscow could be persuaded to
abstain, as it did in a March vote on the resolution that authorized
military intervention in Libya.
But Lukashevich said that even a discussion in the Security Council could
increase tension in Syria, and that any resolution criticizing Damascus
would amount to tacit support of "armed extremists" opposing the
"This does not fit the role of the United Nations," he said.
China was expected to join Russia in voting against a draft resolution at the 35-nation board of the International Atomic Energy Agency rebuking the Arab state for three years of stonewalling of a probe into a site bombed by Israel in 2007.
Also Thursday, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin met with outgoing Russian Ambassador to Israel Petr Stegniy, hoping to convince the government in Moscow not to veto the upcoming UN Security Council resolution aimed at Syria's covert nuclear program.
"Syria's actions are completely contrary to the values of the free world," Rivlin said. "Not everything is political. This matter is of common interest to all parties involved. It is a shared interest of every state in the free world."
US intelligence reports have said Dair Alzour was a nascent, North
Korean-designed reactor intended to produce plutonium for atomic bombs
before it was bombed to rubble. Syria denies the charge.
The IAEA, the Vienna-based UN atomic agency, gave independent backing to
the US allegation in a report last month which said it was "very
likely" to have been a reactor.
Western diplomats said they believed they still had enough support for
the IAEA board to adopt the text, which would require a simple majority.