MOSCOW — Moscow is insisting that a new United Nations resolution on Syria not allow the use of force, but Russia’s foreign minister appeared to suggest Tuesday that the issue could be reconsidered if Syria violates an agreement on abandoning its chemical weapons.
Sergey Lavrov made the statement in a news conference with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius. France and the United States say that a military option remains on the table and are pushing for the U.N. resolution to reflect that.
Lavrov said that Russia “spoke clearly” about rejecting the use-of-force clause when the chemical weapons agreement was worked out in Geneva.
But if signs emerge that Syria is not fulfilling the agreement or there are reports of further chemical weapons use, “then the Security Council will examine the situation.”
The meeting of Lavrov and Fabius came a day after U.N. inspectors submitted their report on the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack that precipitated the heightened tensions over Syria. Although the report confirmed that chemical weapons were used, it did not say who used them — and Lavrov and Fabius differed sharply on their interpretations.
“The report exposes the regime,” Fabius said. “On the basis of the information of our external agents, we consider that the report proves the responsibility of the regime for the chemical weapons attack of Aug. 21.”
But Lavrov said: “We have serious reason to suggest that this was a provocation” by the rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.