The clock is ticking to the July 20th date when the Kofi Annan mission on Syria expires, and British Foreign Secretary William Hague and the Obama administration are doing everything possible to kill off the Annan mission by not renewing it. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who met with Kofi Annan in Moscow today, denounced the U.S.-U.K. campaign as pure-and-simple "blackmail."
Speaking at a press conference prior to his first meeting with Annan, Lavrov lambasted the U.S./U.K. for encouraging the rebels to continue their campaign of terrorism and guerrilla war; for trying to use "blackmail" to continue the Annan mission only if it is paired with excruciating sanctions and a demand for Assad to leave government; and for "blaming" Russia and China for the ongoing war in Syria.
"To our great regret, there are elements of blackmail," Lavrov said. "We are being told that if you do not agree to passing the resolution under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, then we shall refuse to extend the mandate of the monitoring mission."
"We consider it to be an absolutely counterproductive and dangerous approach, since it is unacceptable to use monitors as bargaining chips," said Lavrov.
"Some of my Western colleagues even proposed that the resolution [the Western draft resolution that mentions Chapter 7 of the UN Charter] declare an economic, financial and communication blockade against the Syrian government.... In other words, even talks with [the Syrian government] are ruled out," Lavrov declared.
"This is a direct invitation to a civil war, not the implementation of the Geneva communique," Lavrov declared. "We are not supporting Bashar al-Assad. We are supporting what everybody has agreed upon: Kofi Annan's plan, the Security Council resolution."
William Hague's British-authored "blackmail" resolution for adoption at the UNSC is based on London's demands for severe sanctions against Syria, and the removal of President Assad. "The British government believes it is it is imperative to have a Chapter 7 resolution of the Security Council," said Hague. The new resolution "should mandate the implementation of the Kofi Annan peace plan and of a transitional government."
Russia has prepared a separate resolution that has not yet been released, and Kofi Annan will not only meet with Lavrov, but will met Putin on Tuesday, July 17.