May 28, 2013
The failure of European Union to agree on a new arms embargo on Syria is undermining the peace process in the country, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said.
After a lengthy negotiating session in Brussels, EU governments failed to resolve their differences and allowed a ban on arming the Syrian opposition to expire, with France and Britain scoring an apparent victory at the expense of EU unity.
This failure opens the door for Britain and France to supply weapons to Syrian rebels fighting the regime of President Bashar Assad.
Britain and France have made a commitment not to deliver arms to the Syrian opposition “at this stage,” an EU declaration said. EU officials, however, said the commitment effectively expires on August 1.
London and Paris have argued support for rebels fighting Assad by allowing EU arms deliveries, despite the fact that extremist elements are known to work alongside the rebels.
Other EU governments, led by Austria and Sweden, argued that sending more weapons to the region would increase violence and spread instability.
Russia’s envoy to NATO Aleksndr Grushko said that the abolition of the EU arms embargo on the Syrian opposition will only exacerbate armed conflict in that country.
“We need to refrain from taking steps that would be contrary to this logic. Such steps include armed or non-lethal support to the opposition. This just adds fuel to the fire,” Grushko said on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Moscow and Washington remain undecided as to the content of a proposed international conference on Syria, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.
“There remains a gap between the positions of Russia and the US regarding some issues and aspects of this major international crisis,” he emphasized.
“And we, for our part, cannot agree to hold such events [the international conference on Syria] amid a situation where partners and possible participants in such a conference seek to impose solutions on the Syrian people from the outside, as well as predetermine the course of a transitional process, the parameters of which have not been determined yet,” Ryabkov said.