Russia: West has no solution to Syria

The West is using Russia’s opposition to tougher action against Syrian President Bashar Assad as a pretext not to come up with its own solution to the crisis there, the head of the Russian parliament’s foreign affairs committee said on Thursday.

Speaking a day after Washington accused Russia of supplying attack helicopters to Assad’s forces, Alexei Pushkov said Western calls for the Syrian president to step aside were “irresponsible.”
 “The West does not have any policy at all towards Syria. You are lucky to have Russia, because by blaming Russia you have the possibility to say that somebody is preventing you from solving this crisis,” Pushkov, chairman of the State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs, told reporters at a news conference London.

“What I hear from the West is absolutely irresponsible. Look at what (US Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton says. She says Assad must go. What, is this a policy? What happens next?”, Pushkov added, citing the threat of Iraq-style civil war.

No new helicopters

Russia’s foreign ministry also said on Friday that it had not made any new deliveries of military helicopters to Syria but had sent repaired aircraft to the violence-torn country “many years ago.”

In its most direct response yet to Clinton’s comments that Washington had information attack helicopters were on the way from Russia to Syria, the Foreign Ministry said Moscow’s arms cooperation with Damascus was limited to “defensive” technology.

“There are no new deliveries of Russian military helicopters to Syria. All arms industry cooperation with Syria is limited to a transfer of defensive arms,” the ministry said on its website.

“Regarding helicopters, there were previously planned repairs of military equipment delivered to Syria many years ago.”

A source close to Russia’s arms exporting monopoly Rosoboronexport said that Clinton’s comments on Tuesday may have referred to helicopters that had been sent to Russia in 2009 for repairs and may be on the way back to Syria.

France: Russians not sold on Assad

Meanwhile, France’s foreign minister said that talks were under way with Russia on Syria’s future if Assad is ousted, and that Paris may supply communication equipment to Syrian rebels.

The Russians are not today attached to the person of Assad. They clearly see he is a tyrant and a murderer. But they are sensitive about who might take his place, if Assad is ousted. The discussion is about that,” Laurent Fabius said.

He told France Inter radio that aside from the diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in Syria, another outcome might be “a clear and distinct victory of the opposition.”

“That is why at the same time as the efforts of Kofi Annan, we are considering – the Americans have done it, and perhaps we will do it – giving not arms but extra communications equipment” to the rebels, he said.

Russia has accused Western powers of arming Syrian rebels and deliberately undermining the Annan peace plan.

The remark was the first time that a French official has publicly said that France was considering giving equipment to the rebels fighting the Syrian regime.

Fabius also said that major world powers could soon hold a conference on Syria in the Swiss city of Geneva.

“There is a possibility, I don’t know if we’ll get there, but there is a possibility of holding a conference in Geneva on June 30,” he said.

Participants would include countries on the UN Security Council, but the meeting would be held “without the constraints of the Security Council,” he added.

Russia, along with China, has vetoed two Security Council resolutions against Assad and has vowed to oppose any military intervention.

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