January 31, 2012 - 20:29 AMT
Russian FM: Moscow will veto UN resolution on Syria

Russia indicated on Tuesday, January 31 it will veto a draft resolution on Syria that calls on President Bashar Assad to step down and provides for “further measures” if he refuses.

“Russia will not support anything that is imposed on Syria,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with an Australian television news show, Lateline, RIA Novosti reported.

The European-Arab draft, to be presented to the UN Security Council in two weeks, is due to be debated at the Security Council later on Tuesday.

Russia has been one of Assad’s staunchest supporters during the ten-month-long uprising against his regime. Moscow has proposed its own draft UN resolution on Syria, but Western members of the Security Council have criticized it for being too soft.

A number of Western countries have been trying to persuade Moscow to support the resolution, which effectively gives the go-ahead to a military operation in the country.

Lavrov warned the resolution could lead to "another Libya", which would be disastrous. He also added that he will not persuade Assad to resign and that "regime change is not our job."

He went on to dismiss the view that Russia will support Assad no matter what. “We’re not President Assad’s friends or allies,” he said.

However, he defended Russian arms supplies to the regime. The arms Russia is selling to Syria “are not used against demonstrators but to ensure Syria’s defense,” the Russian minister said.