A man takes a picture of destroyed buildings on a street in the northwestern border town of al-Bab on February 23, 2017 after Turkish-backed Syrian rebels fully captured the town from the Islamic State (IS) group.
Al-Bab, just 25 kilometres (15 miles) south of the Turkish border, was the last IS stronghold in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo. / AFP PHOTO / Nazeer al-Khatib
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said Moscow opposed any new sanctions against the Syrian leadership as they would undermine peace efforts to end the country’s protracted war.
Russia and the United States are headed for a clash at the UN Security Council as Moscow prepares to veto a draft resolution that would impose sanctions on its ally Damascus.
“In terms of sanctions against the Syrian leadership, I think that now they are completely inappropriate,” Putin said at a press conference in Kyrgyzstan.
“This would not help the negotiation process but would only interfere or undermine confidence,” Putin said, adding that Russia “will not support any new sanctions in relation to Syria”.
The UN Security Council will vote Tuesday on the text drafted by the United States, Britain and France that would punish 11 Syrians and 10 entities linked to chemical attacks in 2014 and 2015.
Russia has vowed to use its veto to block the measure, which would be the seventh time that Moscow has resorted to its veto power to shield the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
A fresh round of UN-led peace talks aimed at ending the Syrian conflict are currently struggling to get off the ground in Geneva.
Putin — whose military intervention in Syria helped turn the tables in favour of Assad — lamented that the negotiations in Switzerland are “not going as smoothly as hoped”.
Russia’s delegation looks set to meet the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), the main opposition group, in Geneva on Wednesday, with the Assad opponents urging Moscow to step up pressure on Damascus.