The UN Security Council is set for a showdown on Wednesday as Russia has submitted its own, “enhanced,” draft resolution on Syria to counter a new draft sanctions resolution prepared by Western countries.
The United Kingdom, supported by the United States, France and Germany, drafted the new resolution on Syria on the basis of Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which allows sanctions and a military operation.
Russia, on the contrary, continues to promote UN special envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan as the only way to bring an end to the spiral of violence in Syria, despite the failure of a ceasefire stipulated under the deal.
“We have taken into account [in the enhanced draft] concerns over humanitarian situation, human rights and localized ceasefire,” Russia’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN Alexander Pankin told reporters on Tuesday after a two-hour Security Council’s meeting on the Russian draft.
“This idea has been discussed by Kofi Annan with the Syrian leadership in Damascus,” Pankin said. “It seems to be rather effective.”
The new version of the Russian draft focuses, in particular, on the extension of a UN monitoring mission to Syria, which expires on July 20, for another three months.
Washington and its allies have refused to support the original Russian draft, described as “toothless” and “inadequate” by Western diplomats.
In response, Russia threatened to veto the Western draft on Wednesday because if passed it would be “a small step towards foreign intervention in Syria.”
Both Russia and China – veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council – have previously blocked UN resolutions that would have introduced tough sanctions against Syria over what Western powers say is the brutal suppression of a now 17-month revolt against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
The Syrian conflict, which has grown increasingly militarized over the past few months, has already left between 13,000 and 17,000 people dead, according to Syrian rights activists quoted by the United Nations.
Most recently, intensive fighting between rebels and government forces flared up in the Syrian capital, Damascus, as the Free Syrian Army, a military wing of the Syrian opposition, has announced a full-scale military operation in the capital in response to what the group has described as “massacres and barbaric crimes” committed by government troops.