"The only success we can discern in Lavrov's visit to Syria is that Russia showed that it is trying to solve the conflict and that even if it vetoed the Security Council resolution, it still wants to play an important role," says Georgy Mirsky, an expert with the official Institute of World Economy and International Relations, which trains Russian diplomats.
"But, the thing is, this visit was just symbolic. No agreements were signed. Lavrov spent three hours in Damascus and talked only with the president and his people. Assad repeated things he'd said before," Mr. Mirksy says. "Russia's UN veto has just hurt Moscow's reputation. After the veto, the West is leaning more toward supporting the Syrian rebels. So, we'll get the Libyan scenario, without overt Western interference. Saudi Arabia and Qatar will supply the rebels with arms, and Turkey will back them. I don't see any light ahead, it's a dead end."
More than 5,400 people have died in the 11-month-old uprising. As Syrian security forces cracked down hard, some opposition groups have turned to armed resistance, driving the situation into what looks increasingly like a sectarian civil war. Even as Lavrov sat down to talk with Assad in Damascus, Syrian forces continued to bombard the rebel stronghold of Homs, reportedly killing more than 300 people since Feb. 3.
Lavrov said that direct foreign involvement in the process a bad idea because "attempts to predict the outcome of the national dialogue are, generally speaking, not the world community’s business."