Moscow -Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed on Tuesday to do everything to support Kofi Annan’s plan for ending the violence in Syria that the UN-Arab League envoy said had reached “unacceptable” proportions. Annan arrived for his first meeting with the Kremlin chief since Putin’s return for a third term, hoping to avert a new Moscow veto of a Security Council resolution threatening sanctions against Russia’s ally.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after the 90-minute meeting that he could “see no reason why we cannot also agree at the UN Security Council. We are ready for this”.
But neither Putin nor other Russian official offered any sign that they were ready to take a harder line with President Bashar al-Assad or compromise on punitive measures against the regime’s brutal use of force.
“From the very start, from the first steps, we supported and continue to support your efforts aimed at restoring civil peace,” Putin told Annan at the start of their talks. We will do everything that depends on us to support your efforts,” the Russian leader said.
Annan’s three-month-old peace initiative – never implemented amid recently escalating violence – is now up against a Friday deadline for a UN monitors mission to either wind down or receive an extension from the Security Council.
Western powers have scheduled a vote on the mission for Wednesday extending its mandate for 45 days but also giving Assad 10 days to pull heavy military equipment out of cities or face economic sanctions.
“The Council, I expect, will be sending out a message that the killings must stop and that the situation on the ground is unacceptable,” Annan said.