Moscow shows no sign of compromise over Syria crisis ahead of G20 summit

Russia issues travel warning for countries with US extradition agreement

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov stressed that in Moscow’s view the only solution to the Syrian crisis was a diplomatic one. Photograph: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov stressed that in Moscow’s view the only solution to the Syrian crisis was a diplomatic one. Photograph: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Wed, Sep 4, 2013, 01:00


As western countries prepared to put pressure on president Vladimir Putin during the upcoming G20 summit in St Petersburg, there was no indication of a softening of Russia’s position.

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov stressed once again that in Moscow’s view the only solution to the Syrian crisis was a diplomatic one. He dismissed reports that the US had given Russia evidence that the gas attack was carried out by the Assad government as “bizarre”.

Sergei Vershin, the foreign ministry’s envoy with responsibility for settlement of Middle East affairs, went further. A military strike on Syria would not only be wrong in itself but would affect the entire system of international relations, he said.

“It is a tough emergency situation and a real threat of the use of force exists but our position is that we find this method definitively unacceptable,” he said.


Use of force
Russia’s view was that, rather than solving the Syrian crisis, the use of force would have the reverse effect.

In a heightening of tension between Russia and the US, the foreign ministry has issued a travel warning to its citizens who may be wanted in the US to avoid countries that have an extradition agreement with the US.

It lists Lithuania and Spain among the European countries that it advised certain of its citizens to avoid, saying its experience was that judicial proceedings based on poor evidence and slanted towards a conviction were used against people who would be “effectively kidnapped and taken to the US”.

Anti-American rhetoric has been a feature of some official statements in recent times but in the event of a military strike against Syria it is expected to reach a new level of intensity.