Russia is pushing for a UN Security Council resolution on Syria that would extend the UN observer mission in the country for another three months without any threat of sanctions. The draft circulated by Russia whilst extending the UN observer force’s stay in Syria shifts its focus from its unsuccessful monitoring of the truce to securing a political solution to the conflict.
A council diplomat speaking to the Press Association said that the Russian draft incorporates recommendations from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to redeploy the mission from the field to the capital Damascus and focuses on promoting a political dialogue.
Russia’s deputy UN envoy, Alexander Pankin, says the resolution was sent to the council’s other 14 members ahead of a briefing today by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan on efforts to revive his peace plan.
The deeply divided UN Security Council must now decide the future of the UN observer mission in Syria by 20 July, when its initial 90-day mandate expires.
The Russian draft resolution is unlikely to satisfy the United States and European council members, who have called for a resolution under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which allows the council to authorise actions ranging from diplomatic and economic sanctions to military intervention.
One Security Council diplomat, who declined to be named, told the AFP that Russian draft was “basically a rollover … at the very least it needs to be combined with some real pressure on the parties,” he said. “The council will need to address the Syria situation in a more comprehensive way.”
Russian Ambassador Pankin said a resolution under Chapter 7 would be “counterproductive” in what he described as a “delicate situation.” Russia and China have previously vetoed UN resolutions designed to pressure Syria’s President Bashar Assad.
Assad’s forces have killed more than 15,000 people since the crackdown on protesters began on March 2011, according to opposition forces.