MOSCOW - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Western states on Saturday of trying to advance democracy abroad through "iron and blood," defending Moscow's refusal to join nations seeking the exit of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Echoing comments made by Vladimir Putin, Lavrov made his sharply-worded address to a foreign and defense policy council meeting two days before the Russian president travels to Turkey where the war in Syria is expected to dominate talks.
"Russia is not opposing Western influence or putting a stick in the spokes of Western-initiated projects out of spite," Lavrov said, according to state-run news agency Itar-Tass.
"The fact is, advancing democracy through iron and blood just does not work, and this has been made clear in recent months - the past year-and-a-half," he said.
He added "in most cases it produces the opposite reaction" and leads to "the strengthening of extremists and repressive forces, decreasing the chances of real democratic change."
Moscow says Western and Gulf states are encouraging rebels seeking the overthrow of Assad while the United States and Europe accuse the Kremlin of shielding the Syrian president during 20 months of bloodshed.