Russia says that the European Union’s decision to lift a ban on arming the militants in Syria “directly harms” the prospects of a forthcoming peace conference in Geneva.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday that the move “directly harms the prospects of convening an international conference, ” according to Russian media. On Monday, European Union foreign ministers agreed, after lengthy talks among divided ministers in Brussels, to lift the arms embargo on the militants in Syria. British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced that the EU foreign ministers reached a deal to lift the ban on the militants but maintained the embargo against the Syrian government. Britain and France were the proponents of lifting the embargo against the militants while Austria, Finland, Sweden and the Czech Republic were against the move. Ryabkov said Moscow was disappointed by the fresh anti - Syria move.
“We are disappointed that decisions are being reached that not only fail to promote a political solution… but which contradict the policies conducted by the European Union itself, ” he said.
He also accused the EU of setting “double standards” by lifting the ban on the opposition but not the Syrian government. On May 7, Russia and the United States agreed in Moscow to convene an international conference on Syria, which will serve as a follow-up to an earlier Geneva meeting held in June 2012. The first Geneva talks, which were presided over by former UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, called for a political process to end the crisis in Syria. Syria has been gripped by unrest for over two years, and many people, including large numbers of Syrian soldiers and security personnel, have been killed in the foreign-sponsored militancy.