Russia rejected an invitation to Paris to discuss next steps for Syria, saying that world leaders seemed more intent on helping the rebels than on brokering peace.
Russia today categorically refused to join about a dozen Western and Arab foreign ministers gathering in Paris to discuss ways to pressure Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to abide by the terms of the United Nations peace plan, alleging that the meeting's intent was "counterproductive."
Moscow's self-exclusion from the latest "Friends of Syria" conference – which will include top policymakers from the US, Germany, France, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and other countries – suggests that the recent reconciliation between Russia and the West over how to approach the Syrian crisis may be short-lived.
In fact, though both Russia and the West say they support the plan crafted by UN envoy to Syria Kofi Annan, each appears to have a dramatically different interpretation of what results should flow from its implementation.
Speaking to journalists in Paris, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe accused Moscow of seeking to prop up Mr. Assad as he continues to use brutal military and secret police methods to suppress his political opposition. Syria's year-old civil conflict has killed more than 9,000 people, according to UN estimates.