Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, spoke at a joint press conference alongside British Foreign Secretary, William Hague. In his statement, Lavrov openly condemned opposition forces, citing that they and Bashar al-Assad’s regime are responsible for the fighting that resulted in over 100 civilian casualties in the cities of Hama and Houla.
While Russia has backed the UN Security Council in criticizing the heavy artillery attack on the city of Houla by the Syrian government, it has also pointed out that Assad’s regime is not the only party responsible.
Russia sided with Syria’s position that terror groups like al-Qaida also contribute to the non-stop violence. Russia continues to sell a cache of weaponry to Assad, who is a vital ally to the Kremlins.
In the midst of the violence and fatalities, Lavrov did try to distance the Kremlin for Assad’s regime and added that its foremost priority is to put a halt to the bloodshed, so that Syrians can establish a stable government.
Lavrov and Hague called for both sides to agree to a cease fire and to return to the negotiating table. This ensures that plans for the six-point peace plan – which is vital for putting an end to the Syrian conflict – can move forward. Hague added that without the plan, Syria is doomed to bloody civil war.
While Lavrov emphasized that an end to violence is the main objective, he also directed the weight of the blame to outside forces, which he says have been encouraging opposition parties to fight in order to force other nations to intervene.
Lavrov admitted that the massacre at Houla was largely due to artillery shelling from the government. However, he also pointed to a number of civilian deaths that came at the hands of small arms gun fire, which he claims came from the opposition.
Russia’s position on Syria has put the country at odds with the West. Russia is opposed to direct intervention in sovereign nations and has reportedly balked at sanctions imposed against Syria by the West.