UK & World News
Syria: Russia's Lavrov Accuses US Of Blackmail
Russia has accused the United States of trying to blackmail it during negotiations over what to do about Syria's chemical weapons.
Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said the only reason the West was agreeing to discussions it has proposed was so it could draw up a UN resolution that would open the way to military action.
Mr Lavrov said: "Our American partners are beginning to blackmail us."
He claimed the US was threatening to stop work on implementing Syria's chemical disarmament deal unless Russia supports a Security Council resolution allowing military intervention.
"Right now Western partners are trying to unceremoniously push through a resolution under Chapter VII," he said, adding that, if they were successful, it would "move the (chemical weapons) convention aside to advance individual, personal or geopolitical, state ambitions."
He said resolution under Chapter VII - which authorised the use of force - contradict his agreement with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Russia put forward a plan to bring Syria's chemical weapons under international control in response to calls for action to be taken.
Syria has agreed but the final plan is still to be worked out and is subject to a degree of ratification by the United Nations.
The call for action came after Syria's regime was accused of launching a chemical attack which killed hundreds of its own people on August 21. Syria and Russia claim it was rebels that carried out the outrage.
Under the plan, Syria has until 2014 to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile, but the US, Britain and France want the order underpinned by UN charter's Chapter VII.
Chapter VII allows for sanctions or even military intervention in the event that an order is not carried out.
Russia says that the Americans are using Chapter VII as a diplomatic ploy to gain extra control in the region.
Lavrov's comments came as a mortar round slammed into the compound of the Russian embassy in Damascus, the first such hit against the site.
The attack, which caused no injuries, was confirmed by an embassy source speaking to Syrian state news agency SANA, as well as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog.
There had been hopes that a deal on chemical weapons could pave the way for peace talks to end the 30-month conflict which has killed more than 110,000 people and forced two million more to flee abroad.
But the plan has been greeted with scepticism by the Syrian opposition.
The Hague-based Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is overseeing the inventory and destruction of Syria's chemical weapons under the agreement.
The OPCW, which enforces the Chemical Weapons Convention that Syria has applied to join, postponed a meeting of its Executive Council due Sunday to discuss the practicalities of disposing of Syria's chemical weapons.
A UN report released last Monday said that sarin gas was used in the Syria attacks but did not apportion blame. It did provide details of the trajectories of the missiles that delivered the chemicals which suggested they could have been fired from Syria bases.
Assad's government and the rebels fighting to oust him have accused each other of being responsible.