BEIRUT: Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin said Saturday his country remained keen on preserving Syria’s sovereignty and said many Syrians remained loyal to embattled President Bashar Assad.
“We have a priority and that is to maintain a state’s sovereignty, including Syria today which is witnessing opposing movements but a big portion of the Syrian people does not oppose President Assad and back reforms,” Zasypkin told the Marada website.
“Shouldn’t their opinions be taken in to account?” he asked.
“Dialogue is the best means of bringing justice to the various sections of Syrian society and Russia has announced its readiness to host talks,” Zasypkin added, referring to an offer by Moscow for both the opposition and Syrian authorities to hold talks in the Russian capital to end the crisis.
Russia and China vetoed last week a U.N. resolution that backed an Arab plan calling on Assad to step aside, stalling global efforts to end his bloody crackdown on unrest.
Zasypkin described events in Syria as an armed conflict between Syrian authorities and the opposition and said a lack of recognition that both sides were involved in the violence had been one of the reasons behind Moscow’s decision to veto the resolution at the United Nations.
The Russian envoy also expressed Moscow’s regrets over the withdrawal of Arab League observers from Syria and said contacts with the Arab organization were ongoing to push for dialogue between Damascus and the opposition.
Zasypkin acknowledged his country had military and economic interests in Libya and Syria, “but what is more important is the geo-political considerations because we want a constructive role for Russia in the Middle East as well as at the European and Asian levels.”