Russia opposes Syria intervention, new U.N. action

MOSCOW Wed May 30, 2012 4:02am EDT

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Wednesday that the U.N. Security Council should not consider new measures to resolve the crisis in Syria at this point and signaled it would block any effort to authorize military intervention, the Interfax news agency reported.

The warnings came after the French President Francois Hollande said military intervention was not ruled out provided it was backed by the Security Council, and Germany said it would push for "new engagement" by the council on Syria.

Russia supported a non-binding U.N. Security Council statement on Sunday that strongly condemned the killing of more than 100 civilians in the Syrian town of Houla, criticized the government for using heavy weapons against population centers and called on the government and its foes to end the violence.

That statement was "a strong enough signal to the Syrian sides and a sufficient reaction by the council to the latest developments," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said, according to Interfax.

"We believe consideration in the Security Council of any new measures to influence the situation now would be premature," said Gatilov, whose country has twice vetoed Western-backed council resolutions condemning President Bashar al-Assad's government over 15 months of bloodshed.

Commenting on Hollande's remark, Gatilov said Russia "categorically opposes any external intervention in the Syrian conflict, as it would only aggravate the situation with unpredictable consequences for Syria and the entire region."

(Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; Writing by Steve Gutterman)

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