Russia pushes to stop intervention in Syria, but its only weapon is diplomacy
by Nina Achmatova
Russian steps up pressure on Western governments. Moscow warns that an attack without UN mandate would be a "violation of international law" and would only worsen the situation. Experts: the Kremlin will react only with non-military measures.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - All Russia can do is wait.  That is the headline one of the most prestigious newspapers in the country, Kommersant, summarizing the latest developments of the Kremlin's diplomatic pressure on Europe and the United States, to avoid the increasingly realistic step of military intervention against the Syrian regime. U.S., Britain and France are convinced that government forces used the chemical weapons in Ghouta (outskirts of Damascus), on 21 August, and in response want a NATO attack, even without the mandate of the Security Council. Moscow has condemned the initiative as "a violation of international law," he warned against "dire consequences" for the whole region, but can only invite its Western partners to caution, pending the results of the UN experts inquiry into the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

President Vladimir Putin reiterated to the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, that "there is no evidence" of Bashar al-Assad's forces being responsible for the chemical attack. The Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, at an urgently convened conference August 26, complained that "the West has already decided." At the same time he warned against having any illusions: "Bombing the military infrastructure, leaving the field of battle open to victory for the opposition to the regime, will not solve the situation." Even if there is a victory, the civil war will continue", declared the head of Russian diplomacy, recalling the examples of Iraq and Libya.

Lavrov also criticized the U.S., referring how the Secretary of State, John Kerry, has failed to provide or explain Washington's strategy on Syria. At the same time, he ensured the White House remains determined to bring the Syrian opposition to the table of an international peace conference. Which at this point would be "impossible" to hold in September, as first thought, admitted the Russian minister, convinced that '"hysteria" around chemical weapons is being whipped up by those who want to derail any political solution to the crisis.  Signs arriving from the U.S. are far from encouraging after the meeting scheduled for August 28, in The Hague, with the Russian delegates to revive Geneva 2 was postponed at the last minute.

Beyond the bright tones, the Kremlin - which alongside China has blocked all resolutions against Assad at the UN - can do little to deter the coalition military option. The increasingly tense relations with the White House, note analysts, deprive Moscow of any weapon of effective pressure. And the Federation has no interest in being drawn into an international conflict. As Lavrov himself said, Russia "will not go to war with anyone."

"It 's hard to imagine that Russia will interfere directly in case of intervention" - political scientist Sergei Karaganov, head of a working group of the Presidential Council for Human Rights told Interfax. "I highly doubt that it is useful or can provide the necessary hardware, in such a situation, and enough weapons have already been accumulated there. "

Alexei Makarkin, vice president of the Center for political technologies, is convinced that in case of outside intervention, Moscow will react towards the U.S., but only with non-military measures. Speaking to The Moscow Times, the analyst pointed out that because of poor bilateral relations between the Kremlin and the White House, Putin has no way to influence Barack Obama's decision. Evgheny Satanovsky, head of the think tank Institute for the Middle East is of the same opinion: "There are no strong economic ties between the two countries, the U.S. does not depend in any way on Russia and vice versa." Obama's visit of to the G20 meeting in St. Petersburg (5-6 September) will be completely ruined if there is any military intervention beforehand- the expert warned - but the most Moscow can actually do is cancel the face to face meeting with the U.S. President or cu back on its ties with the United States. " Moreover, already at historic lows.

Even the White House's attempts to bring Russia to abandon Assad are in vain. American analysts recall thestrategic interests at stake, represent by the Russian naval base in Tartus, which counterbalances the American naval fleet in the Mediterranean and Black Sea.  The journalist Robert Fisk points out that you only have to look at a map to understand Putin's concerns: Syria is close to Chechnya, the Caucasus republic, which has already experienced an Islamic anti-Russian revolt. The chaos in Syria could lead to new instability in that region never completely pacified and from where many are believed to have left to enroll with the Syrian opposition.

 

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