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      Russia: West 'Blackmailing' Us over Syria

      Moscow: Western powers threaten to cancel U.N. observer force in Syria unless military intervention is authorized.
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 7/16/2012, 3:03 PM

      Sergei Lavrov
      Sergei Lavrov
      Reuters

      Russia complained Monday that there are "elements of blackmail" in the West's position on Syria. The Western powers, Moscow said, are attempting to link the extension of the mandate of U.N. observers in Syria to a green light for using force against Bashar Assad's regime.

      According to AGI – the Italian Journalist Agency – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, "We are very sorry to see here elements of blackmail effectively stating that if Russia doesn't vote in favor of a U.N. resolution under Chapter 7, the West will refuse to extend the mandate for observers in Syria."

      Lavrov added, "We believe that this is a dangerous and counter-productive attitude, because using observers as a bargaining chip is unacceptable."

      Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter implicitly includes the possibility of resorting to military force. For example, it stipulates that force may be used in order to protect U.N. peacekeeping forces or to create a humanitarian corridor.

      U.N. envoy Kofi Annan is due in Moscow, where he is expected to urge the Russians to put more pressure on Syria's leaders to step down and begin a political transition. Russia has vetoed previous calls for foreign intervention, and has circulated its own draft resolution calling for the extension of the observer mission's mandate, which runs out this week.

      The Russian resolution draft does not contain any element authorizing possible use of force.