Russia has growing concerns about the conflict in Syria, but it will continue to oppose the outside use of force, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
“The situation in Syria is becoming more alarming,” Lavrov told a news conference, during which he pushed Russia's proposal for an international conference on the crisis. “An impression is being created that Syria is on the verge of a full-scale civil conflict.”
He said two recent attacks had put Russians in the capital, Damascus, in danger: a bus carrying Russian specialists came under fire on Saturday, and a grenade attack took place on Friday on a building where Russians live. There were no injuries, he said.
Despite growing concerns that the situation may be spinning out of control, Russia, as a member of the United Nations Security Council, “will not sanction the use of force,” he said. Russia has previously blocked proposed UN resolutions to impose sanctions on President Bashar Assad's regime.
Lavrov said Russia's resistance to intervention is “not because we are protecting Assad and his regime, but because we know that Syria is a complicated multi-confessional state, and because we know that some of those calling for military intervention want to ruin this and turn Syria into a battleground for domination in the Islamic world.”
Russia has been a strong supporter of the mission of UN and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan, who has put forth a plan for ending the violence between Assad's forces and opposition fighters.
But the plan is severely stumbling amid the rise in violence, and Lavrov said an international conference should convene to galvanize international commitment to the plan.
He said participants should include the permanent members of the Security Council, the European Union and influential countries in the region. He said American objections to Iran's possible participation were “shallow.”