IN PICTURES: Conflict in Syria
But today Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, responded emphatically that Russian policy toward Syria will not change under duress. Russia's position is "well-known, balanced and consistent, and completely logical," Mr. Peskov told the independent Interfax news agency. "So it is hardly appropriate to talk about this position changing under someone’s pressure."
Moscow has taken a lot of heat internationally for vetoing two Security Council resolutions that would have pressured Mr. Assad to step down and potentially paved the way for greater outside involvement in the crisis.
Russian foreign policy experts say that Moscow's unwillingness to back down on its refusal to license any foreign intervention is based on several factors, all of which have been clearly thought out and seen as rooted in national interest.
Russian analysts argue that any violation of national sovereignty is a form of neoimperialism which, even if packaged as a humanitarian intervention, tends to be wrapped up with the geopolitical interests of the intervening powers and seldom leads to better humanitarian outcomes. They cite most of the wars of the past decade, from Kosovo to Iraq to last year's NATO intervention in Libya (which Russia acquiesced to in the Security Council) to make their point.