President Dmitry Medvedev pledged Russia’s support for Kofi Annan’s “last chance” mission to end Syria’s yearlong conflict and avert full-scale civil war.
“Probably this is the last chance to avoid long-lasting and bloody civil war,” Medvedev said at a meeting with Annan, a former United Nations Secretary-General, in Moscow today. “We will render our full support to the extent Russia is capable of. We hope your mission will have positive results.”
Russia blames the fighting largely on the armed opposition, though it has criticized President Bashar al-Assad’s government for mistakes made during the crisis.
Efforts to end the conflict have so far failed, with Russia and China twice blocking UN Security Council resolutions aimed at removing Assad. Last week, the world body agreed a non-binding statement supporting Annan’s mission to agree a ceasefire and access for humanitarian supplies. Assad’s battle to preserve his family’s four-decade hold on power has claimed more than 8,000 lives, the UN estimates.
“A cease-fire in Syria will be difficult to achieve without blocking military and political support for the opposition from abroad,” Sergei Prikhodko, Medvedev’s foreign policy aide, told reporters in Moscow earlier on Friday.
Medvedev met Annan at Vnukovo airport near Moscow before taking off to South Korea for a nuclear security summit due to be attended by about 50 world leaders. Tomorrow Medvedev will meet U.S. President Barack Obama to discuss the conflict in Syria, the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan and missile defenses in South Korea.