Vilifying Moscow's support for Assad hasn't helped, but striking a grand bargain just might.
Syrian President Assad speaks with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov during a recent meeting in Damascus / Reuters
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Russia's veto of the UN Security Council resolution and Foreign Minister Lavrov's subsequent Damascus visit this week have positioned, if not isolated, Russia alongside Iran against Arab, Western, and indeed international consensus opposing Bashar al-Assad's barbarism. Buried within the headlines on last Saturday's vote was the fact that both India and South Africa voted for the resolution condemning Syria. Yes China voted alongside Russia. But Beijing did not subsequently dispatch its foreign minister to Damascus in an effort to find a way to keep Mr. Assad in power. Russia is clearly in a diplomatic place it would rather not be.
Lest anyone think that the Russians have emerged unscathed, the normally taciturn United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-Moon yesterday linked Assad's ferocious assault against Syrian rebel areas that entered its sixth day on Thursday to the Russian veto, saying that the veto "has encouraged the Syrian government to step up its war on its own people." Put less diplomatically: Syrian blood is flowing due to Moscow's obdurate behavior. British foreign secretary William Hague was withering in condemning the Russians and Chinese for watering down a resolution that they then proceeded to vote against, rightly accusing them of "betraying the Syrian people."