Posted on July 04 2012 – 10:00 AM – Posted by: Doug Brady
Let’s start with Syria, where Moscow has vetoed two attempts to pass a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the Assad regime. In the case of the May 25 Houla massacre, where over 100 civilians were murdered in cold blood, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimedthat “both sides evidently had a hand in the deaths of innocent people.” This injected moral equivalence where none existed, since U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said that pro-regime shabbihamilitias were likelyresponsible.
And yet, the Obama administration continues to try to woo the Kremlin. The White House’s latest dead-letter hope is that a “Yemen model” of political transition in Syria, referring to the negotiated departure of former Yemeni dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh, might find favor in the Kremlin. It will not. The Kremlin is joined at the hip with the Assad regime: Lavrov, for instance, told Ekho Moskvy radio last week that asking Assad to step down is “infeasible” because the latter simply will not do so.
Perversely, while Putin blames foreign actors for undermining special envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan by facilitating the Syrian opposition, his state-owned arms dealer Rosoboronexport has continued to run weaponry to Assad. Most recently, it attempted to ship MiG-25 attack helicopters to Syria — the transport vessel was turned around in the North Sea only after London, acting at Washington’s request, got the vessel’s British insurer to revoke its insurance. Instead of expressing embarrassment, Lavrov blamed the “unreliability of the British insurance system.” Meanwhile, the Moscow-based think tank CAST anticipates that, in addition to those repaired copters, Russia will also eventually deliver MiG-29 fighter jets and even more advanced air-defense systems to Syria.
The hard truth is that the reset was doomed from the beginning by Russia’s increasingly autocratic political system. The White House’s outreach was founded on two phantom premises — first, that former President Dmitry Medvedev was actually running the country rather than keeping the seat warm for Putin; and second, that Medvedev was the liberal modernizer that he claimed to be.