Russia Readies To Exert More Pressure on West on Syria
May 18, 2012 • 10:15AM

Kremlin advisor Arkady Dvorkovich, addressing reporters in Moscow on May 17, reiterated Russia's position that the international community should send a "strong signal" not only to the Syrian government but also to the opposition.

"The G8 should give a strong signal to all conflicting parties about the way we believe one needs to act for the situation to become safe for everyone," Dvorkovich told reporters. "A unilateral signal is unacceptable for us," he said. He also stressed Russia's opposition to adopting a statement by the Group on Syria and Iran that includes conclusions about provisions that could be later imposed by the Group's leaders when adopting decisions at the Security Council.

Hours before, in a rare interview with foreign media, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told the Rossiya-24 TV channel that that Syrian forces had captured a number of foreign mercenaries who were fighting for the opposition. He explained that the authorities had not advertised the fact until now, because they had not had enough evidence to prove the fighters were indeed mercenaries. "Some [of the mercenaries] are still alive," he said. "They are being detained, and we are preparing to show them to the world. Many of them have been killed."

Assad further emphasized that the assault on Syria, spurred by outside forces, was a threat to the stability of the entire region. He praised Russia and China for acting to defend Syria's sovereign rights.

He also made clear that the so-called Syrian opposition glorified by the western and Arab nations, engaged in efforts to bring down the Syrian government. The Free Syrian Army are not free, he said, pointing out that they will never be free while they are supplied with guns and funded from abroad. He described the Free Syrian Army as a crowd of convicted criminals, including Al-Qaeda-type religious fanatics, extremists, and terrorists, and some foreign mercenaries, mostly from other Arab states.

It is also to be noted that Russian Premier Dmitry Medvedev, addressing the International Legal Forum in St. Petersburg, said that the situation around Syria and nuclear security will be discussed at the G8 summit in Camp David on May 18-19.