Russia on Saturday said U.S. sanctions on Syria are harming its business interests, adding that it would press the U.N. Security Council to endorse this month a Syria peace accord that was brokered in Geneva and has since split world powers.
“Unilateral U.S. sanctions against Syria and Iran are increasingly becoming extra-territorial in nature and are touching upon the interests of Russian business,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after meeting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Lavrov added that “there is a plan to hold a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council with the participation of ministers on the Syrian issue.”
“We stressed in a meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State that Russia will push for the Security Council’s approval of the Geneva communiqué.”
The plan, championed by former Syria peace envoy Kofi Annan and supported by the Kremlin, did not make an explicit call for President Bashar al-Assad to quit power.
The West swiftly made clear it saw no role for Assad in a unity government and the plan’s future was put in further peril by the subsequent resignation of Annan, who was later replaced by Lakhdar Brahimi.
But Russia and China insisted the accord made no call on Assad to quit, nor did it explicitly deny him a role in the country’s future. The armed opposition denounced the agreement and fighting has since escalated.
The issue is set to be debated by U.N. Security Council members on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly in New York later this month.
Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers have agreed on the need to beef up sanctions against the Assad's regime at talks in Cyprus on Saturday, Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Markoullis.
“There is consensus also on the increase of sanctions in Syria,” she said, after saying the bloc’s 27 ministers were also agreed on the need to massively strengthen humanitarian aid.