Will not back any UN call for Assad to go: Russia

Russia said it would not support any UN Security Council resolution calling on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to go.

Moscow: Russia said on Friday it would not
support any UN Security Council resolution calling on Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad to go, warning that an early vote on
a new Western-backed text was doomed to failure.

"We cannot support any UN resolution calling for the
support of Assad`s resignation," Deputy Foreign Minister
Gennady Gatilov told Interfax, adding that a quick vote on the
Western-Arab draft was "destined for failure".

The Security Council, where Russia wields veto powers,
was due to gather this evening to consider a new draft giving
strong backing to an Arab League initiative for ending a
crisis that the United Nations estimates has claimed more than
5,400 lives.

Nations behind the measures -- which besides Britain,
France, Germany include Arab nations such as Morocco and Qatar
-- have been pushing for a UN Security Council vote next week.
Gatilov said a quick vote "was destined to failure
because we have already clearly expressed our position, as
have our Chinese partners."

Showing little movement from Russia`s initial tough
stance on the measure, Gatilov also criticised the resolution
for leaving open the threat of sanctions and even possible
military involvement should Assad fail to quickly meet its

Russia and China placed a rare double veto on the first
draft resolution last year, which placed the blame for the
violence directly on al-Assad.

Moscow still enjoys close trade ties with its Soviet-era
ally, signing a new military jet delivery contract with
Damascus this month and still leasing one of its ports for its

Russia has proposed its own draft resolution that assigns
equal blame for the violence on both Assad and the opposition,
an option dismissed by the West.

The Western-backed draft resolution, obtained by an agency,
"condemns the continued widespread and gross violations of
human rights" and makes a new call for an immediate halt to
the government crackdown.

It also hints at sanctions, stating that it "takes note"
of Arab League economic measures ordered on November 27 and
"encourages all states to adopt similar steps and fully to
cooperate with the League of Arab States in the implementation
of its measures".