MOSCOW - A top Kremlin aide said on Monday Moscow could do little more for Syrian President Bashar Assad, opening the door to a shift in Russia's position after 10 months of bloodshed.
Moscow is one of Assad's few remaining allies, resisting pressure to call for his resignation and, with China, blocking a Western-crafted UN Security Council resolution that would have condemned a crackdown that has killed thousands of civilians.
But Russia can do no more, state-run news agency Itar-Tass quoted Mikhail Margelov, a senior lawmaker who is Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's special Africa envoy and has also engaged in diplomacy over Syria, as saying.
"(Our) veto on the UN Security Council resolution was the last instrument allowing Bashar Assad to maintain the status quo in the international arena," Margelov was quoted as saying.
The veto "was a serious signal to the president of Syria from Russia. This veto has exhausted our arsenal of such resources," said Margelov, who is chairman of the international affairs committee in Russia's upper parliament house.