A Russian official said a draft U.N. Security Council resolution on humanitarian aid for Syria has been crafted as a precursor for military intervention, and that Russia will not let it pass.
Russian media quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov saying Wednesday that the resolution is “unacceptable” in its current form. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the measure a one-sided effort to blame the Syrian government.
President Barack Obama said in a joint news conference Tuesday with French President Francois Hollande that aside from Russia, there is “great unanimity” among the council on the resolution to give greater access to aid workers.
“Secretary Kerry and others have delivered a very direct message to the Russians that they cannot say that they are concerned about the well-being of the Syrian people when there are starving civilians, and that it is not just the Syrians that are responsible; the Russians, as well, if they are blocking this kind of resolution,” said Obama.
The draft measure threatens sanctions against those who obstruct aid deliveries.
Obama said that at this point he does not think there is a military solution to the Syrian crisis, but that the situation continues to change and he will explore “every possible avenue.”
Russia is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, which each hold veto power. Russia and China have vetoed three previous resolutions that would have pressure President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
Also on Tuesday, U.S. intelligence chief James Clapper described the situation in Syria as an “apocalyptic disaster,” So far, the fighting has killed more than 134,000 people and created nearly 10 million refugees.
Clapper told a U.S. Senate committee that U.S. intelligence expectations from the current Syrian peace talks in Geneva are “pretty modest.”
U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi described the talks Tuesday as laborious with little progress. He said said negotiators from the Syrian government and the opposition are doing their best to make the process “take off,” but that more cooperation is needed.
The talks continue Wednesday.