Rus­sian of­fi­cial blames U.S., al­lies for Syria cri­sis

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND | NATION & WORLD - By Ge­orge Jahn

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.

THAER MO­HAMMED/GETTY-AFP

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.

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