Diplomacy

Russian Dep FM: “Things Are Not Going So Smoothly” in Syria Talks

Reuters reports that Russia has expressed hopes that some resolution revolving around some aspect of Syria’s vast chemical weapons arsenal can be hammered out this week. The details of that resolution have yet to be worked out, but Russia officials have very definite ideas about what won’t be included:

“There is no talk of adopting a U.N. Security Council resolution under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter. There can be no talk of any automatic application of sanctions, let alone the use of force,” [Russian Deputy Foreign Minister] Ryabkov told a meeting in parliament. But he said Chapter 7, which can authorize the use of force or other measures, could be cited in the resolution as a possible means to counter any violations later on.

Western powers seeking to secure a resolution – the U.S., Britain, and France – have insisted on at least some gesture toward the idea that the Bashar al-Assad regime could be militarily coerced in the future if it blocks implementation of that resolution. The Russians have been consistently opposed to passing anything that includes robust language, let alone mandates. The result has not quite been a deadlock, but – per particularly dry language used by Ryabkov earlier this week – talks aren’t exactly moving right along:

“Unfortunately it’s necessary to note that in contacts with the Americans, things are not going so smoothly…they are not quite going in the direction they should,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in parliament… He said U.S. officials “always mention that plans to punish Damascus remain in force. We draw certain conclusions from that and assume that the threat of aggression in violation of international law is so far only delayed, not dismissed fully.”

U.N. chemical weapons experts will return to Syria on Wednesday to complete investigations into chemical weapons attacks, including a March attack on the outskirts of Aleppo, in the country.

[Photo: U.S. Department of State / Flickr]