Monday, July 30, 2012

Report on Syrian Issue - Russian position

- 27th July 2012 (morning)
 This special report on the Russian position is divided into three parts:
1.       INTERNATIONAL RESPONSES TO THE EVENTS OF THE PAST WEEK (a separate report on Russia’s position, prepared by the NCF’s Russia analyst)
2.       BIOGRAPHIES OF THE KEY PLAYERS – Russia’s supremos in regard to the Syria file
3.       THE UN RESOLUTIONS (A Russian perspective, prepared by the NCF’s Russia analyst)

Since the Syrian uprising began in 2011, Russia has played a strategic role in the unfolding crisis. Moscow believes that its valuable economic links would be jeopardized if President Bashar al-Assad were to lose power as Russia is Syria’s main arms supplier. Syria has reached out to Russia to obtain modern weapons that included many modern anti-tank and anti-air missile systems to further improve its combat capabilities.
Russia faced massive criticism over continued arms shipments to Syria. Nevertheless, Igor Sevastyanov, Deputy CEO of Rosoboronexport, Russia’s state-controlled arms trader, announced its intention to fulfill contracts for the supply of armaments to Syria:
“The contract was signed long ago and we supply armaments that are self-defense rather than attack weapons, and there can be no talk about any violations by Russia or Rosoboronexport either de jure or de facto.” His statement was reinforced by President Vladmir Putin who said that Russia was not supplying arms to Syria which can be used against protesters. Nor, Russia claims, is Russia sending soldiers from the forces deployed in the Chechen Republic to fightin Syria. This information was characterized by the Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov as ‘a lie aimed at discreditation of Russia's position on the Syrian conflict’.
Syria is essential to Moscow's military strategy. Russia relies heavily on its naval base at the Mediterranean port of Tartus. However, Russia’s interests are not about Tartus alone. Russia is worried about the development of conservative Islam in the country and throughout the Middle East. A top Muslim cleric in Russia’s Tatarstan province, Valiulla Yakupov, was shot dead and the Chief Mufti Ildus Faizov  was wounded by a car bomb on 19 July 2012 These attacks are thought to be related to the priests’ criticism of radical Islamists. The rise of extremism in this oil-rich Volga River province has been fueled by the influx of Muslim clerics from Chechnya and other predominantly Muslim provinces of Russia’s Caucasus region. Last year, Doku Umarov, leader of embattled Chechen separatists, issued a religious decree calling on radical Islamists from the Caucasus to move to the densely-populated Volga River region that includes Tatarstan.
On Syria, Russia has acted against the Western coalition and vetoed UN Security Council resolutions whilst having its own proposed resolution vetoed in turn. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, stated that the UN Security Council was not ‘a tool for intervention in internal affairs’. However, at the same time, Russia supports Kofi Annan’s peace plan, calling for political negotiation and demands that both the government and the opposition should cease using armed violence. Russia and China resorted to a veto for the third time over the Western variant of the resolution on Syria in the United Nations Security Council on 20 July 2012.
Responding to the western criticism of the Russian position, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich described as ‘gross insinuations’ the attempts by the West to blame Russia for the continuing violence in Syria. Lukashevich expressed concern over the West’s intention to bypass the UN in resolving the Syrian conflict and urged the international community to prepare an appropriate response to any such statements from the West in the future.
According to Lukashevich, Russia has a plan to evacuate its citizens from Syria if the situation gets much worse. He stated that the Russian Embassy in Damascus was in close contact with the majority of the Russians in Syria, including those living in remote areas.
Lukashevich also condemned the sanctions against Rosoboronexport. The House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress approved the sanctions after the vote on Syria at the UN. ‘In general, referring to sanctions for any reason - this, of course, evokes rejection,’ he added.
Former Soviet and Russian Ambassador to Syria Alexander Zotov comments: ‘The problem is not President Assad, but how to resolve the crisis with minimum losses for the country. Syrians will have to overcome the moral, physical, and psychological traumas of late and face a new stage in the country’s development. This calls for a compromise. But a compromise will be hard to reach. The opposition does not have a leader. It is not united. What keeps it together is the desire to see President Assad go.’
At the same time, Russia has played an active role in promoting Annan’s plan. After vetoing all UN resolutions regarding Syria, Russia and China eventually agreed to Annan’s plan. Vitaly Churkin, Russia's permanent representative to the UN, called on all parties to ‘establish favorable conditions including from the standpoint of ensuring security’ for the UN observers.
The Russian Foreign Ministry’s official spokesman Alexander Lukashevich stressed that Kofi Annan’s mission in Syria improved prospects for a peaceful resolution of the Syrian crisis. He described Annan’s mission as a ‘real way towards ending violence and bloodshed in Syria’. Russia sent 30 Russian military servicemen to Syria to ‘encourage Annan’s mission’.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has proposed convening an international conference that would attract all countries that can influence Syria. Churkin, Russia's UN envoy, said the proposal ‘is very much in line’ with the work of Annan's contact group. Mr. Lavrov is confident that such a conference would help persuade the Syrian parties to find a compromise by mobilising resources of key players to create ‘an all-Syrian political process, not to predetermine its direction.’ This would also bring together the five permanent members of the UN Security Council along with all Syria's neighbors, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Arab League, the European Union and Iran.
Ministers attending the Action Group meeting on Syria held on 30 June 2012 in Geneva agreed upon set guide-lines that would usher the way for a Syrian-led transition. Minister Sergey Lavrov underlined that the plan does not require Assad's removal, saying there is ‘no attempt in the document to impose on the Syrian people any type of transitional process.’ The Western side and Russia interpreted principles agreed in Geneva differently, i.e. there was no consensus over the future of Assad.
Russia remains infuriated by what it sees as constant attempts to undermined its position by the West, which instead of trying to find ways to cooperate with Russia over Syria, blackmail and feed provocative news stories about Russia and Syria to the press. For example, recently Russia was bizarrely even accused of hiding 35-year-old Asma Assad and her three children in Moscow.
Russian Ambassador to Paris Alexander Orlov claims his recent statements on France's RFI radio, regarding Bashar al-Assad's resignation were misinterpreted. On 20 July 2012 the Ambassador allegedly told the station that Assad had agreed to quit power, but will only leave in a civilized manner. The Syrian information ministry contradicted Orlov's comments. The Russian Foreign Ministry echoed the Syrian ministry, stressing Orlov's interview has been wrongly interpreted and the ambassador's words ‘were taken out of context.’
On 23 July 2012, The Russian president Vladimir Putin called for an end to violence in Syria. He called on the government and the opposition to sit down and decide the future of the country. Putin emphasized that Russia opposes to the civil war scenario in Syria and that Moscow will continue to find ways to bring peace to Syria.


Deputy Minister of Foreign AffairsBorn 1961.

In 1983 he graduated from the Institute of Asian and African Studies of Moscow State University. Fluent in Chinese and English.
In the office of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation since 1991. He has held various diplomatic posts in the Ministry's central apparatus and abroad (China, USA, Japan).
In 2006-2009 - Minister-Counselor of the Embassy of Russia in China.
In 2009-2011 - Director of the First Asian Department.
Since December 2011 Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.
He holds the diplomatic rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.
He is married. He has two children.

BOGDANOV Mikhail Leonidovich
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Born in 1952.
Graduated from Moscow State Institute of International Relations in 1974.
Joined diplomatic service in 1974.
Held various diplomatic posts in the MFA headquarters and abroad.
1974-1977 - People's Democratic Republic of Yemen.
1977-1980 - Lebanon.
1983-1989 and 1991-1994 - Syria.
1997-2002 - Ambassador to Israel.
2002-2005 - Director of the Middle East and North Africa Department, MFA.
2005-2011 - Ambassador to Egypt, Plenipotentiary Representative to the Arab League.
Since June 2011 - Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation.
Holds diplomatic rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.
Speaks Arabic and English.
Married, with a son.


Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman

In January 2011 appointed as Director of the Department of Information and Publications by Order of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.
Born in 1959.
In 1981 he graduated from MGIMO, Department of International Economic Relations.
1981 – 1983 – Referent of the USSR Consulate General in Mazari-Sharif (Afghanistan)
1983 – 1985 - The translator of the USSR Embassy in Afghanistan
1986 - 1987 - Attaché of The Department of Middle East in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR
1987 - 1989 - Third Secretary, Embassy of the USSR in Afghanistan
1989 - 1991 - Third Secretary of the Department / Office of the Middle East, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR
1991 - 1994 - Vice-Consul, Consul of the Consulate General of the USSR / Russia in the city of Mazari-Sharif (Afghanistan)
1996 - 1996 - First Secretary, Counselor, Department of European Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
1996 - 2000 - Advisor of the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation in the OSCE, Vienna (Austria)
2000 - 2003 - Senior Adviser, Head of the Department of European Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
2003 - 2008 - Senior advisor of the Russian Embassy in the U.S.
2008 - 2010 - Deputy of the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation in the OSCE, Vienna (Austria)
Speaks English, Persian and French.
He is married and has two daughters.

LAVROV Sergey Viktorovich
Born in 1950, Russian.
1972 - Graduated from the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Moscow State Institute of International Relations. Has command of English, French and Sinhalese.
Started his career in 1972 at the Soviet Embassy in Sri Lanka.
1976-1981 - worked in the Department of International Organizations of the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
1981-1988 - First Secretary, Counselor and Senior Counselor in the Permanent Representation of the USSR at the UN.
1988-1990 - Deputy Head of the Department of International Economic Relations of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
1990-1992 - Director of the Foreign Ministry's Department of International Organizations and Global Problems.
1992-1994 - Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.
1994-2004 - Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation at the United Nations.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation since 2004.
Has the rank of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation.
Married, with one daughter.
NCF Team note: The following is prepared by the NCF’s Russia analyst, who is (stating the obvious) Russian. They have been included unedited:
On 19 July the UN Security Council voted on the resolution project proposed by the United Kingdom, Germany, Portugal, the USA and France. The resolution was not adopted, because Russia and China voted against it. Two members of the UN Security Council – Pakistan and the RSA – abstained from voting.
The resolution was drawn up by Britain and threatens non-military sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad's regime if it fails to withdraw heavy weapons and troops from urban areas within 10 days. The resolution is also tied to Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which provides for the use of force to put an end to the rapidly escalating conflict. It received 11 votes in favor, with two abstentions.[1]
Under Britain's UN envoy Mark Lyall Grant, the resolution offered flexibility on Russia and China's concerns, but still they refused to engage, choosing to put their national interests ahead of the lives of millions of Syrians. The failure to approve the resolution would lead to ‘all-out civil war.’[2]
Under the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman A.K. Lukashevich, the resolution project proposed by the United Kingdom, Germany, Portugal, the USA and France was put to a vote the Security Council on 19 July 2012 despite repeated notices that it is unacceptable for the Russian Federation. Lukashevich stressed that the document was of an absolutely unilateral character and aimed at putting pressure solely on the Syrian authorities. The joint authors insisted that the resolution must have been adopted in relation to the Chapter VII of the UN Charter implying sanctions threat towards Damascus. The resolution text comprised an absolutely unrealistic ultimatum that the Syrian authorities must within 10 days stop violence, withdraw all troops and heavy armaments from the cities and human settlements, the non-fulfillment of which would result in sanctions. And most importantly, the project did not imply anything similar for the other party of the Syrian internal armed conflict – for the opposition groups. In point of fact, the joint authors of the project again proposed the UN Security Council to encourage the opposition in its armed combat against the Syrian government. And that is a way to the civil war outbreak in the country.[3]
Russia had earlier circulated a rival resolution to the UN Security Council supporting K. Annan’s plan and Geneva agreements and taking into account the recommendations of the UN Secretary-General on the extension of the UN Mission in Syria. During the consultations the Russian Federation, having included a number of western project provisions to its resolution text, showed its preparedness for constructive work and compromise search. The document addressed a symmetrical call for all Syrian parties to strictly follow the provisions of the Final Communiqué adopted in Geneva. The fact that Western parties refused to work on its basis and did not want to fulfill the decisions, which they actually approved, seriously questions their genuine intentions.
Unlike the Syrian government, the opposition rejected the decisions. It became the main cause of further aggravation of the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic. In this context, the attempts of some Western countries to confer responsibility for violence escalation in Syria on the Russian Federation because of its refuse to support the resolution implying sanction threat against Syrian authorities are absolutely unacceptable.[4]
Instead of making crude insinuations regarding the policy of Russia, which throughout the whole conflict kept seeking for the ways of its political settlement, Lukashevich advised Western partners to do at least anything in order to induce the militant opposition to choose the way of political settlement. He stressed that the conflict in Syria cannot be settled through violence intensification and terrorist attacks. In this relation, the statements made after voting failure at the UN Security Council by some representatives of western delegations that the bloody terrorist acts in Damascus allegedly confirm the necessity of unilateral pressure on B. al-Assad’s regime, which, they say, brought the situation in the country to the present state, sound at least cynical. Therefore, they in fact justify the actions of terrorists and give a signal that those are on the right way.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted that Russian project clearly follows the results of Geneva meeting – it supports everything stated in the Final Communiqué. At the same time, it does not have anything unmentioned in Geneva’s final document.[5] Meanwhile, Western governments tried to blackmail Russia into supporting their interpretation of the Syrian resolution. They threatened to end the UN observer mission if an agreement is not reached.
Lavrov also mentioned that some Western countries twisted the wording of the Geneva agreement to open the door to sanctions against Syria.[6]

[1] ‘Russia, China Block West’s UN Resolution on Syria’, Turkish Weekly, 20 July 2012 <>
[2] ‘Russia, China Block West’s UN Resolution on Syria’, Turkish Weekly, 20 July 2012 <>
[3] ‘Comment of the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman A.K. Lukashevich on the Syrian issue discussed by the UN Security Council’ 20 July 2012 <>
[4] ‘Comment of the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman A.K. Lukashevich on the Syrian issue discussed by the UN Security Council’ 20 July 2012 <>
[5] ‘Answers of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia S.V. Lavrov to the questions of mass-media regarding the results of the meeting between the President of the Russian Federation V.V. Putin and the UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy K. Annan, Moscow, 18 July 2012’ 19 July 2012 <>
[6] ‘Лавров: Россию шантажируют из-за резолюции СБ ООН по Сирии’ 16 July 2012, Взгляд, Деловая Газета <>

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