Obama, With Hollande, Pushes Confrontation with Russia

During his joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande, U.S. President Barack Obama launched into a war-mongering diatribe against Russia over Syria — in effect, admitting the failure of his own policy but blaming Vladimir Putin for it.

“Syria must meet its commitments, and Russia has a responsibility to ensure that Syria complies,” Obama said in his opening statement at the press conference. When the question came up during the question period, Obama elaborated, ranting that “the Syrian regime is essentially starving thousands of Syrians in Homs and elsewhere,” and that “The state of Syria itself is crumbling.”

And, Obama continued,

“we are going to continue to commit to not just pressure the Assad regime, but also to get countries like Russia and Iran to recognize that it is in nobody’s interests to see the continuing bloodshed and collapse that’s taking place inside that country.”

Referring to attempts to get a UN resolution, Obama went on:

“Now, there is great unanimity among most of the Security Council on this resolution. Russia is a holdout. And Secretary Kerry and others have delivered a very direct message to the Russians that they cannot say that they are concerned about the well-being of the Syrian people when they are starving civilians, and that it is not just the Syrians that are responsible, the Russians, as well, if they are blocking this kind of resolution.”

Obama reiterated that he reserves the right to use military action in Syria, and pointed out, with regard to chemical weapons, “In partnership with France, we said we would be prepared to act if Syria did not.”

Russia: UN Security Council Resolution on Syria an Excuse for “Military Action”

At a press conference in Geneva on the sidelines of the second session of the Geneva II talks, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov held a lengthy consultation about the talks, followed by a press conference that included questions about the fight at the UN Security Council over a US/British-backed resolution on Syria.

Gatilov echoed earlier statements from Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, saying that the resolution’s “whole purpose and aim is to create grounds for future military action against the Syrian government if some demands it includes are not met.”

According to the Russian news agency, RIA, Gatilov added, “It is unacceptable to us in the form in which it is now being prepared, and we, of course, will not let it through.”

At the press conference with Muallem, Gatilov also mentioned that Russia and China are drafting a UNSC resolution that will address terrorism in Syria.

The fighting at the UN between the US/UK/French bloc that supports the Syrian rebels, and Russia, which is consistently pushing for a negotiated solution that ends the fighting, parallels the bitter but still ongoing talks between the Syrian government and the opposition in Geneva.

On Feb. 12, in Geneva, both sides submitted documents on their positions. The opposition statement — reported by Reuters, which claims to have been given a copy to read — allegedly outlines a transitional government with “full” executive powers that will oversee the humanitarian food aid to the civilians under siege. FM Muallem dismissed the opposition’s proposal as only a “statement” and not an official “paper for discussion.” Muallem also accused the opposition of refusing to even admit the existence of terrorism in Syria, and strongly supported the need for a Russia-China UN resolution.

Pushkov: Obama “Possessed” by Idea of Overthrowing Assad

Obama’s statement, Tuesday, that he “reserves the right” to attack Syria, now on humanitarian grounds, indicates to a leading parliamentarian in Russia that he still harbors visions of overthrowing the Assad regime in Damascus. Alexei Pushkov, the chairman of the State Duma’s international affairs committee, said on Twitter, Wednesday, that “Obama said the US reserves the right to a military operation in Syria. Being possessed by the idea to overthrow Assad, the US did not change its mind about a military invasion.”

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