RF comes against unilateral sanctions on Syria – Lavrov

DUSHANBE, September 3 (Itar-Tass) — Russia comes against unilateral sanctions, including the EU embargo on Syrian oil import, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“We’ve always said unilateral sanctions will lead to nothing good. This destroys partner’s approach towards any crisis,” Lavrov told journalists on Saturday.

“We are against unilateral sanctions. In general sanctions can often solve any problem,” the Russian minister added.

The Council of CIS Heads of State gathers in Dushanbe on September 3.

At their session in Sopot the EU countries decided to ban Syrian oil import. Sanctions will come into effect just today.

“We are against unilateral sanctions,” Reuters quoted Lavrov as saying, on the sidelines of a summit of ex-Soviet states in the Tajik capital Dushanbe. “This ruins the partnership approach to any crisis.”

According to BBC reports, the EU has stepped up sanctions on Syria by banning imports of its oil, as protests again broke out against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

Oil accounts for about 25% of Syria’s income and EU member states take about 95% of its oil exports.

Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal said the sanctions would “go straight to the heart of the regime”.

Meanwhile, at least 14 people were reportedly killed as protesters again came out in force across the country.

Activists said seven had died in suburbs of the capital Damascus, four in the central city of Homs, and another three in Deir al-Zour in the east.

The United Nations says more than 2,200 people have been killed since pro-democracy demonstrations began in mid-March.

The UK Foreign Office said the European Union had agreed at official level to ban imports of Syrian oil into the EU to increase pressure on the Syrian regime over its crackdown against anti-government protest.

A spokesperson said it was hoped the agreement would be signed off by EU foreign ministers meeting in Poland on Friday and Saturday and come into immediate effect.

However, Italy has won a concession allowing it to fulfil existing contracts until 15 November.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said: “President Assad is carrying out massacres in his own country.”

In Paris on Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned Mr Assad’s “brutality against unarmed citizens”, adding: “The violence must stop and he needs to step aside.”

The US has already banned the import of Syrian oil.

UK PM David Cameron has expressed frustration that a tough UN resolution on Syria has not yet been found.

He told the BBC on Friday: “We’ve been at the vanguard, arguing for a different approach to Syria. What [Mr Assad] is doing is appalling. He’s had his chance to demonstrate he’s serious about reform and he’s blown it.”

Syrian state television has denied most reports of protests, calling them “imaginary”, although it said security forces had killed “two members of armed groups” in Talbisseh.

Access to Syria has been severely restricted for international journalists and it is rarely possible to verify accounts by witnesses and activists.

Activists on their Facebook page, Syrian Revolution 2011, had urged people out on to the streets under the slogan “death rather than humiliation”, adding: “We are ready to die in the millions as martyrs.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said seven people had been killed on Thursday, in Homs, Idlib and Deir al-Zour.


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