Russian Envoy to UN Urges Annan Plan Implementation in Syria

Russia’s envoy to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, on Wednesday called for implementation of UN special envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan in Syria to avoid military intervention there.

While commenting on a statement by U.S. ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, who said the worst and most likely scenario in Syria is the option of acting outside of the UN Security Council’s authority, Churkin said that “the best way to avoid catastrophic scenarios is to try to implement the Kofi Annan plan” and added that “the effort must be made by everybody.”

Should the Annan plan implementation fail, the consequences for the “extremely fragile” region would be sad, Churkin told journalists after a closed UN Security Council meeting in New York.

He said that was “another reason why we need to think carefully before making gestures, hints of any actions outside of the Security Council and outside of the Kofi Annan plan.”

Rice’s statement that Churkin commented on said that the worst-case scenario in Syria, “which seems unfortunately at the present to be the most probable,” means that “the violence escalates, the conflict spreads and intensifies, it reaches a higher degree of severity.”

In that case, Rice said, “we have a major crisis not only in Syria but in the region. The Council’s unity is exploded, the Annan plan is dead… and members of this Council and members of the international community are left with the option only of having to consider whether they’re prepared to take actions outside of the Annan plan and the authority of this Council.”

Over 9,000 people have been killed in clashes between the government and opposition forces in Syria since the start of the uprising against the regime of President Bashar Assad, according to UN estimates.

Russia and China have twice vetoed UN Security Council resolutions over what Moscow called a pro-rebel bias since the start of the uprising against Assad, but have supported Annan’s peace plan. The veto was meant to prevent the repetition of the “Libyan scenario.” In Libya, rebels ousted and killed long-standing dictator Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011 after a months-long military standoff in which they received assistance from NATO forces.

Moscow insists that both the government and “armed terrorist gangs” operating in Syria should be held responsible for the unrest.

French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday said on TV that he did not rule out military intervention in Syria if approved by the UN Security Council. Some observers said Rice’s statement was a response to Hollande’s words.

Over 100 people, including dozens of children and women, were killed in Houla in Homs province, in the May 25-26 attack that was one of the deadliest single events since the uprising against Assad began in March 2011. The UN Security Council on Sunday condemned the massacre, which took place shortly before Tuesday’s visit to Syria by Annan.

According to the UN, the six-point plan put forward by Annan in March calls for an end to violence and access for humanitarian agencies to Syria. It also says detainees should be released, inclusive political dialogue started with account for the aspirations of the Syrian people, and unrestricted access of international media to the country ensured.

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