September 22, 2013
US President Barack Obama and Russian FM Sergei Lavrov [file]Photo: REUTERSMOSCOW - Russia accused the West on Sunday of trying to exploit a chemical weapons deal with Syria to push through a UN resolution threatening force against President Bashar Assad.
Assad's government has handed over information about its chemical arsenal to a UN-backed weapons watchdog, meeting the first deadline of the ambitious US-Russia accord which the UN Security Council is due to endorse in the coming days.
But major powers on the council, who have disagreed throughout a conflict which has killed 100,000 people, remain divided over how to ensure compliance with the accord.
The United States, France and Britain want a council resolution issued under Chapter 7 of the UN charter, which could authorize sanctions or military intervention if Damascus reneges on its commitments.
Russia, which along with China has blocked three draft resolutions on Syria since the 2011 uprising against Assad erupted, opposes Western threats of force against an ally which Moscow has continued to arm and support during the civil war.
"They see in the US-Russian deal not a chance to save the planet from significant quantities of chemical weapons in Syria, but as a chance to do what Russia and China will not allow, namely to push through a resolution involving (the threat of) force against the regime and shielding the opposition," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
Lavrov also said Russia, was ready to send troops to Syria to ensure the safety of UN chemical weapons inspectors.