‘‘We aren’t providing the Syrian regime with any offensive weapons or weapons that could be used in a civil war,’’ Lavrov said. ‘‘And we have no leverage over what the regime has got since the Soviet times.’’
Georgy Mirsky, a leading Mideast expert with the Institute for World Economy and International Relations, a top foreign policy think tank, said President Vladimir Putin’s stand on Syria is rooted in fear that joining international calls for Assad’s resignation would make him look weak at home.
‘‘It would look like an inadmissible concession to America, a virtual surrender. The Kremlin would lose its face, look like a loser,’’ said Mirsky.
He wrote in his blog that Putin is resigned to Assad’s eventual collapse and the loss of any Russian influence in a future Syria, but firmly opposes international sanctions. That stand allows Putin to tell his domestic audience that Russia has defended its ally until the end against overwhelming odds, said Mirsky.
Jim Heintz contributed to this report.