Russia says 'naive' to expect Assad to halt fire first
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
MOSCOW, Sept 1: Russia said Saturday it would be "naive" for outside powers to expect Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to withdraw his troops first from major cities and then wait for the opposition to follow suit.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said such a demand on the regime amounted to a call for "capitulation" that Western and Arab nations had no right to make.
"When our partners say that the government must stop first and withdraw all its soldiers and weapons from cities -- and only then call on the opposition to do the same -- well, this is a completely unworkable scheme," said Lavrov.
"Either people are naive or it is some sort of provocation," he noted while answering questions from students at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.
Lavrov stressed that Russia was not trying to support Assad or his government but basing its policies on the daily situation on the ground.
"No matter your view of the Syrian regime, it is completely unrealistic in the current situation -- when there is fighting in the cities -- to say that the only way out is the unilateral capitulation of one of the opposing sides," said Lavrov.
"We are not holding on to any regime or any individuals in the Syrian situation," he added. "We are simply basing our position on what is realistic."