Russia “Welcomes” Plan to Control Syria’s Chemical Weapons, But That’s About It

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Guess what? It turns out that Russia isn’t really all that excited about forcing Syria to give up its chemical weapons after all:

A last-ditch effort to avert a U.S. military strike by transferring control of Syrian chemical weapons ran into obstacles Tuesday, as Russia balked at a French plan to enforce an international agreement under a binding U.N. Security Council resolution with a military option if necessary.

….A telephone conversation between French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, revealed a deep divide over their visions of the Security Council’s role — and particularly over the prospect of military action to ensure that an agreement would be honored….After a telephone conversation Tuesday with Lavrov, Fabius said Russia is reluctant to agree to a binding U.N. Security Council resolution that would provide a framework to control Syria’s chemical weapons stocks.

….Russia considers Fabius’s proposal unacceptable at least in part because it would imply that the Syrian government is responsible for last month’s chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of Damascus. Instead, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said, Russia plans to submit a draft U.N. Security Council presidential statement “welcoming” the initiative to transfer Syrian chemical weapons to international control in order to destroy them. The statement would call for the U.N. secretary general, the director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and “interested parties” to implement the plans, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported.

There are lots of ways of weaseling the wording on this, of course, and no one is better at that than a bunch of UN diplomats. But this proposal is going to end up in the ash heap pretty quickly if this turns out to be a hard-and-fast position from Russia. Stay tuned.

Also: apologies for the 100 percent focus on Syria so far today. It’s just one of those odd coincidences. Maybe next I’ll write something mean about the new iPhone in order to spark a witty and enlightening conversation about Apple in comments.

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