Diplomat: ‘Russia is not clinging to Assad’
The statement comes in response to Western pressure to persuade Russia to support international calls on Assad to step down.
Gatilov reiterated Russia’s position, saying that his country would block any new UN Security Council efforts to push Assad from power.
"It is only through the political process – and not through any decision of the UN Security Council – that the Syrians should determine the future of their state and its make-up," he told Interfax.
Russia will respect any decision on the Assad regime, but only if it is made by Syrians themselves, without Western involvement.
"We will respect any agreements reached in the course of this dialogue," he said.
On Wednesday, Gatilov accused Western powers of sticking to double standards over their refusal to condemn the Syrian terrorist attacks. “So there are ‘bad’ terrorists who should be condemned and those whose actions can go without a reaction from the international community,” he wrote on Twitter.
Russia, along with China, has vetoed three consecutive Western-drafted UN Security Council resolutions on Syria, claiming the resolutions were unbalanced.
The main argument Moscow and Beijing share is that both the rebels and the government should be held responsible for the current situation in the country.
Despite the criticism Russia and China face, both countries say the decision to block sanctions is a defense of the principles of the UN Charter, which says that all members must refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.