Russia, US may see Syria accord differently: leading MP

Russia and the United States may have "different interpretations" of the accord on dismantling Syria's chemical weapons, a prominent Russian lawmaker warned Sunday.

"The main question now is to see whether the Syrian settlement becomes the subject of different, even opposite, interpretations in the United States and Russia," said Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the Russian parliament's lower house.

In remarks to the Interfax news agency, Pushkov also said the deal reached Saturday in Geneva by US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov was a "success for Russian diplomacy".

And he added: "The United States can no longer play first violin. It has been deprived to some extent of its military advantage."

Pushkov noted however that Washington could still revive plans for military intervention.

Political analyst Fyodor Lukyanov told the Moscow Echo radio station that "US President Barack Obama cannot and will not renounce the threat."

"If you take away this threat now, there is a risk that everything will slow down."

Lukyanov, who edits the Russia in Global Affairs journal, said that the implementation of the agreement was "fraught with many risks" since it did not make clear precisely how the United Nations Security Council would react to breaches of Syria's chemical weapons obligations.

"The fact that it mentions chapter seven of the UN charter, which allows the use of force against sovereign states ... could be interpreted as a legal basis for military action," he said.

Writing on his Twitter account, Pushkov said that the United States would still push for regime change in Syria.

"The agreement on Syria should not create illusions. It stopped the US carrying out strikes but does not mean it is renouncing 'regime change' in Syria," Pushkov said.

Underlining the differing US and Russia standpoints, Pushkov reiterated that Russia still backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's claim that rebels, not the forces of his regime, committed chemical weapons attacks.

Lavrov and Kerry on Saturday concluded three days of talks in Geneva with an ambitious agreement to dismantle and destroy Syria's chemical weapons arsenal by mid-2014.

It gives Assad a week to hand over details of his regime's stockpile of the internationally banned arms in order to avert unspecified sanctions and the threat of US-led military strikes.

If Damascus fails to comply, the deal could be enforced by a UN resolution with the use of force as a last resort.

by Jean-Louis SANTINI © 2013 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Sep 15, 2013