Russian official blames U.S., allies for Syria crisis
UNITED NATIONS — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday laid the blame for a “bleeding Middle East and North Africa” on the U.S. and its allies, in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly smacking of the kind of rhetoric that reflected the state of superpower relations during the Cold War.
Lavrov depicted Moscow’s military involvement in Syria as crucial to efforts to prevent the crisis from spiraling more out of control. He accused Ukraine of playing “zero- point games” instead of hewing to agreements meant to reduce the confrontation with his country.
He criticized the doping bans on Russian athletes as politically motivated and reproached the West for allegedly stalling on nuclear arms reduction commitments and conventional disarmament.
Suggesting that the West was gripped by attempts to impose its own vision of a world order, Lavrov invoked George Orwell and his anti-utopian “Animal Farm” novel “where all animals are equal, but some are more equal.”
He accused the West of promoting their own interests to the detriment of others, through “mentoring, supremacy (and) exclusiveness.”
Their “arrogant attitude and feeling of their infallibility in pushing forward unilateral hazardous solutions to the most complex conflicts and crises can be observed by the example of bleeding Middle East and North Africa,” he said. “As a result, the basis of world stability is being destroyed.”
Lavrov’s comments reflected the latest spike in tensions between Moscow and Washington, with both sides blaming each other for the collapse of the latest efforts to find a peace formula for Syria.
“We can’t go out to the world and say we have an agreement when we don’t,” Secretary of State John Kerry said after meeting the top diplomats from Russia and more than a dozen European and Middle Eastern countries and amid increasing Syrian fighting.
Syrian President Bashar Assad blamed the United States for the deal’s failure earlier this week, citing U.S. inability to control “terrorist” groups and a weekend attack that killed dozens of Syrian soldiers.
The U.S. apologized for what it described as a mistake, and Lavrov on Friday called for an “unbiased and impartial investigation” of the attack.
Syria’s military threatened a ground offensive in Aleppo and pounded the city’s rebel-held neighborhoods with airstrikes Friday, killing dozens, demolishing buildings and damaging a main water station in an escalation that could doom faltering attempts to revive a cease-fire.
Rebels vowed to fight to keep Assad’s forces out of their districts and shelled government neighborhoods, wounding several people, according to state media.
The bombing, which began in earnest Wednesday, has been unprecedented, targeting residential areas, infrastructure and civil defense centers.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 27 civilians were killed in dozens of raids overnight.
A Syrian family leaves the al-Muasalat area following a reported airstrike Friday in Aleppo. Missiles hit rebel-held areas of the city in preparation for a ground offensive.