UNITED NATIONS/MOSCOW - The United Nations on Friday thanked Russia for offering to replace peacekeepers from Austria in the Golan Heights but said an agreement between Israel and Syria bars all permanent members of the Security Council from the UN observer mission there.
President Vladimir Putin made the offer in Russia on Friday after Vienna said it would recall its troops from a UN monitoring force due to worsening fighting in Syria.
Austria, whose peacekeepers account for about 380 of the 1,000-member UN force observing a 4-decade-old ceasefire between Syria and Israel, said it would pull out after intense clashes between Syrian government forces and rebels on the border.
But UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said it was impossible for the United Nations to accept the offer from Russia, which along with the United States, Britain, France and China, is a permanent veto-wielding member of the 15-nation Security Council.
"We appreciate the consideration that the Russian Federation has given to provide troops to the Golan," he told reporters. "However, the Disengagement Agreement and its protocol, which is between Syria and Israel, do not allow for the participation of permanent members of the Security Council in UNDOF."