The Russian Foreign Ministry says Moscow will not allow the European Union to inspect ships sailing under the Russian flag, and that it will not cooperate with a new round of EU sanctions imposed against Syria.
“We do not plan to take any part in measures carrying out European Union decisions directed against Syria,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued on Saturday.
“Among other things we will not consider requests and give consent to the search of ships sailing under the Russian flag, nor to the use of other restrictive measures,” the statement added.
On July 25, Moscow condemned the new round of European Union sanctions against Damascus, saying the measures taken by the European Union “can be considered a declaration of a sea and air blockade of Syria.”
“Russia does not recognize them (sanctions) and believes them to be counter-productive.”
The Saturday Russian Foreign Ministry statement was issued on the same day when Syrian security forces began a major operation from the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo to clear the city of foreign-sponsored armed rebels.
There have also been reports of clashes between Syrian troops and rebels in the northern province of Idlib.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a joint press conference with his Japanese counterpart Koichiro Gemba in Moscow on Saturday that the Syrian government needs to “make some first gestures.”
“But when the armed opposition are occupying cities like Aleppo, where yet another tragedy is brewing as I understand… it is not realistic to expect that they (the government) will accept this,” Lavrov stated.
“Our Western partners… together with some of Syria’s neighbors are essentially encouraging, supporting and directing an armed struggle against the [Syrian government].”
Many people, including large numbers of security forces, have been killed in the turmoil in Syria since March 2011.
The anti-Syria Western regimes have been calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, but Russia and China remain strongly opposed to the Western drive to oust Assad.