MOSCOW, January 31 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian Foreign Ministry slammed outgoing US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday for a recent statement which referred to Russia’s “unwillingness” to assist in settlement of the Syria conflict, saying it was symptomatic of America’s obstructive attitude to resolving the crisis.
“Unfortunately, we have repeatedly said that in their public statements, American representatives often show a very biased, and sometimes completely wrong interpretation of Russia’s position on Syria,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told reporters.
“The same refers to the US Secretary of State’s statement, which it is hard to assess as other than an attempt to turn everything upside down,” Lukashevich said.
In a recent interview with the NPR media organization, Clinton said regarding Syria: “Certainly from my perspective, the Russians were unwilling to go forward.”
“We had made it our position that we would not open the door to military action, but we wanted to take political action, economic action through the Security Council,” she added.
Russia has faced strong international criticism over its refusal to back UN sanctions against Syria, its last ally in the Arab world, over what it called the pro-rebel bias of some resolutions proposed by western nations. Moscow denies it is backing President Bashar al-Assad and says it is concerned the Syrian president’s enforced departure would only worsen the conflict.
Lukashevich expressed regret Russia’s proposals on the Syrian settlement, aimed at promoting the start of a political process to establish a transitional government, have “faced stiff opposition from Moscow’s Western partners, primarily the United States.”
“The question arises: who was actually throwing a wrench in the works of the Geneva [settlement] scheme?” Lukashevich said. “The answer is evident.”
At a meeting on Syria in Geneva on June 30 last year, foreign ministers from UN Security Council permanent member states and from countries neighboring Syria proposed establishing a transitional Syrian government that would comprise both the Syrian authorities and opposition forces, but incessant fighting in Syria has made it impossible to launch a dialogue.
At least 60,000 people have been killed in Syria’s conflict since March 2011, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has said, citing new analysis released by the UN in early January.
Democratic Senator John Kerry will take over as Secretary of State from Clinton, who is stepping down on Friday after four years in the job.