The United States and Russia have traded sharp words over Syria.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that Russia’s continued support for the Assad government could lead Syria into a full scale civil war. Speaking to an audience in Denmark she said, “[The Russians] are telling me they don’t want to see a civil war. I have been telling them their policy is going to help to contribute to a civil war.” She added that Russia needed to come “on board because the dangers we face are terrible.”Russia has maintained that its policy is based on upholding international law and opposition to military action. Russia has found itself on the defensive since last week’s massacre in Houla that appeared to target woman and children. As international outrage has grown, Russia has begun to criticize Syrian authorities and has held them, along with rebel groups, responsible for the killings in Houla. A spokesman for Russian President Vladamir Putin said that Russia’s opposition to further action against Syria is “completely free of emotions, which are hardly appropriate here.” Russian foreign ministry officials added that stopping the violence was more important than a change in government.
Despite the sharp rhetorical disagreements, there are clear signals that the United States and NATO are not ready to engage in military action in Syria. Ivo Daalder, the US envoy to NATO has said that military action is not currently an option even as more news of civilian deaths emerge.