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Russia defends its veto of UN resolution on Syria

October 7, 2011

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MOSCOW—President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday defended Russia's decision to veto a European-backed U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria, saying it would have opened the door to possible military action.

The resolution threatened sanctions against Syria if it didn't halt its brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. But Medvedev said in televised remarks that the authors of the resolution had refused to include a Russia-proposed provision saying there should be no foreign military interference in Syria.

"That means only one thing: our partners at the U.N. Security Council aren't excluding the repetition of the Libyan scenario, although in private conversations they said that they understand that Syria is not Libya," Medvedev said at a session of the presidential Security Council. "The proposed text would have allowed to again resort to weapons."

Russia and China vetoed Tuesday's measure, which would have been the first legally binding resolution against Syria since President Bashar Assad's forces began attacking civilian protesters in mid-March. The United States and European countries have strongly criticized the veto.

The crackdown has left nearly 3,000 people dead, according to U.N. estimates.

Russia abstained in the U.N. vote authorizing military intervention in Libya, but harshly criticized NATO for the excessive use of force and civilian casualties from its campaign. The NATO-backed rebels in Libya eventually succeeded in overthrowing strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

Medvedev and other Russian leaders have strongly warned the West against emulating Libya's experience in Syria. Medvedev said Russia backs international demands that the Syrian government end violence against civilians, but also believes that the opposition must disavow "extremists."

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