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Russia: US decision to cancel Syria talks “regrettable”
August 27, 2013, 8:01 am

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said earlier the attack is designed by rebels to derail the work of a UN team investigating chemical weapons use in Syria [Xinhua]

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said earlier the attack is designed by rebels to derail the work of a UN team investigating chemical weapons use in Syria [Xinhua]

Russia on Tuesday said it was disappointed with the US decision to postpone a bilateral meeting on the Syrian crisis, even as the two sides stand deeply divided on the issue.

The US on Monday announced that the meeting in Hague with the Russian officials will not take place as “ongoing consultations” about the use of chemical weapons in Syria takes centrestage.

State Department Undersecretary Wendy Sherman and US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford were to meet with Russian counterparts to discuss the crisis.

“We will work with our Russian counterparts to reschedule the meeting. As we’ve long made clear it is imperative that we reach a comprehensive and durable political solution to the crisis in Syria,” said a US State Department official.

Gennady Gatilov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, said it was a “regrettable” decision taken unilaterally.

“It is regrettable that our partners decided to postpone the Russia-U.S. meeting on calling an international conference on Syria,” said Gatilov.

“Working out the political parameters for a resolution in Syria would be exceptionally useful now, when the threat of (military) force hangs over this country,” he added.

Russia had earlier on Monday warned the US not to repeat “past failures” when it considers its options in formulating its Syrian policy in the wake of an alleged chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds last week.

Peter Lavelle, the host of CrossTalk program with RT, says Russia’s claim about Washington treating Syria like it did Iraq prior to the 2003 invasion can not be dismissed.

“Again Washington and its “coalition of the willing” are casting aside international law for geopolitical advantage. Even the claim of “weapons of mass destruction” is being employed again! It is obvious Washington is not interested in investigating the truth about chemical weapons use or the real nature of Syria’s civil war.”

“After all, Washington said “Assad must go” through hook or crook, this appears to be in play irrespective of realities on the ground,” Lavelle told The BRICS Post.

According to Moscow, unilateral military actions circumventing the UN would undermine the search for political and diplomatic solution to the Syrian conflict, and lead to a termination of the Geneva 2 initiative brokered by Russia and the US.

“For the US the situation is similar to the eve of intervention in Iraq when the CIA was provided with the false information that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Based on that, the US initiated that infamous war. The question is – Can Obama today avoid repeating the mistake?” Andrei Sushentsov, a lecturer at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations told The BRICS Post.

Meanwhile Syrian Information Minister was quoted by the official SANA news agency as saying that any foreign military intervention would “create a very serious fallout and a ball of fire that will inflame the Middle East”.

Some Russian analysts are however saying the threat of “imminent war” could be exaggerated.

“Obama has recently given an interview to CNN, reminding audiences that the US is already involved in a long-drawn out war in Afghanistan and thus it will be burdensome for the US to start a new one. There are many reasons why the US might not intervene militarily, and the falling economies of the US and EU is one such solid reason,” Alexander Demchenko, Research Fellow with the Institute of Oriental Studies of Russia’s Academy of Sciences told The BRICS Post.

Demchenko also argued that the Syrian situation on the ground is very different from Iraq.

“Over the past two years Assad didn’t desert the forces, nor did his generals desert him, which was true in Iraq in 2003. This is a far more serious military resistance,” Demechenko noted.


Daria Chernyshova in Moscow for The BRICS Post