The Russian ambassador to the United Nations refuses to sign on to a Security Council resolution on Syria, and because Russia has veto power, that would effectively scuttle it. But what’s interesting here is the Russian demand that the resolution rule out military action:

Russia said on Wednesday it would veto any U.N. resolution on Syria that it finds unacceptable, after demanding any measure rule out military intervention to halt the bloodshed touched off by protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.

Arab and Western states urged the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday to act swiftly on a resolution calling for Assad to hand over powers to his deputy and defuse the 11-month-old uprising against his family’s dynastic rule.

“If the text will be unacceptable for us we will vote against it, of course,” Russian U.N. envoy Vitaly Churkin told reporters in Moscow via a videolink from New York […]

His remarks came hours after Russia’s envoy to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, said there was no chance the Western-Arab draft text could be accepted unless it expressly rejected armed intervention.

This actually shouldn’t be all that difficult a request. Foreign ministers from multiple countries, including the US Secretary of State, keep saying that the situation in Syria bears no resemblance to Libya, and that they would not prefer military action. Russia is basically telling the international community to prove it.

Russia did not support military action in Libya, mind you, and they feel like they got snookered into a resolution with enough plausibility – through an “all necessary means” clause – to allow for intervention. They really don’t want to go through that with Syria, an ally and purchaser of Russian armaments. Russia also opposes further sanctions against Syria, so they have multiple reasons for their opposition.

Meanwhile, opposition groups in Syria want to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Hama massacre, where Bashar al-Assad’s father Hafez killed an estimated 20,000 protesters in that city (see the Twitter hashtag #RememberHama). The anniversary takes place Thursday and Friday. So there could be a massive amount of bloodshed in the next couple days. Meanwhile, at the UN there is deadlock.

David Dayen

David Dayen

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