MOSCOW, April 22 (RIA Novosti) – A deputy Russian foreign minister on Monday criticized the European Union’s decision to ease its sanctions against Syria to support the country’s opposition.
“We proceed from the fact that there is a legitimate government in Syria until a new election is held,” Mikhail Bogdanov told reporters. “That is why we believe such unilateral actions are out of line with the principles of international law and our common understanding… on how to act in the inter-Syrian dialog.”
The EU Council on Monday eased certain sanctions, including the oil embargo, against Syria. It said the move was designed to “help the civilian population and support the opposition” in Syria.
“This leads the situation to a deeper deadlock, and does not contribute to a political solution of the problems that have accumulated,” Bogdanov said. “So we think this is a counterproductive decision.”
The deputy foreign minister also said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would discuss the EU’s move during his talks with US State Secretary John Kerry in Brussels on Tuesday.
About 70,000 people have died in Syria since the start of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad in March 2011, according to UN figures. Russia, along with China, has faced widespread condemnation over its refusal to approve UN sanctions against Assad’s regime.
Moscow has repeatedly stated it has no interest in seeing Assad remain in power, but is rather concerned that unilateral sanctions would create a power vacuum that would lead to more violence.