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Russia says its UN draft on Syria aid has no sanctions

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(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

Russia said on Thursday that its own draft UN Security Council resolution on bringing aid to desperate Syrian civilians does not include the threat of sanctions on the Damascus regime.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia had prepared two documents for UN Security Council discussion comprised of a draft on aid as well as a denunciation of "terror" sweeping the war-torn country.

Lavrov said the original draft on humanitarian assistance backed by Western and Arab states "is prepared in the form of an ultimatum. There are threats of sanctions."

"But we insist on the need to focus on practical work," Lavrov told reporters.

"The difference between their resolution and our understanding of the situation is that they take a very selective interpretation of the situation," Russia's top diplomat said.

"They heap all the blame on the regime, without devoting the necessary attention to the humanitarian problems that are being created by the actions of the rebels."

Western states want Russia to back a draft resolution that calls on all parties to improve humanitarian access and "immediately end the sieges of the Old City of Homs" and other Syrian cities.

The resolution is not binding and does not provide for automatic sanctions.

But the Council could vote for sanctions targeting those who prevented delivery of humanitarian aid or harmed civilians if its demands are not met in 15 days.

Russia has already blocked three UN Security Council resolutions aiming to pressure the Damascus regime since the crisis began nearly three years ago.

Lavrov scoffed at the Western plan as a political document aimed at painting the opposition in a positive light while placing all the blame for the humanitarian crisis on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"Of course, it is much more difficult to agree... about unblocking specific neighbourhoods... than it is to adopt resolutions at the Security Council or the UN General Assembly," he said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140213/russia-says-its-un-draft-syria-aid-has-no-sanctions