US ratchets up its charges even as Russia says it's supplying only defensive weapons. Britain and France join a chorus that appears to be pressing Moscow to give up on Syria's Assad.
Far from backing off claims that Russia is providing Bashar al-Assad the heavy weapons that are killing Syrian civilians, the United States ratcheted up the charges Wednesday – asserting that Russian-supplied weapons are killing Syrians “on an hourly basis.”
Firing back, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said his country is only supplying Syria with defensive weapons – before he went on to snipe that it is in fact the US that is supplying the region with its deadliest weapons.
The latest US-Russia row over Syria, touched off by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s warning Tuesday that a shipment of Russian attack helicopters is on its way to President Assad’s armed forces, comes as the Syrian conflict deteriorates to a point where a growing number of diplomats and regional experts are deeming it a full-blown civil war.
With Syria going from bad to worse before a divided and ineffectual international community, the public dispute between the two world powers may be part of an effort to place blame – especially, in the case of the US, with the Obama administration coming under increasingly harsh criticism for “dithering.”
But the administration’s campaign to shine a condemnatory spotlight on Russia may also be part of a broader international effort to convince Russia that it is time for it to give up on Assad and throw its weight behind a political transition in Syria.