While President Obama agreed Tuesday to let a diplomatic solution for Syria try to take shape, he appeared to embrace a Russian plan to disarm the Assad regime of its chemical weapons. But within hours Russia seemed to be sabotaging its own plan.
The five permanent members of the Security Council will meet Wednesday in New York to discuss the draft resolution, a day before Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva.
Russia had blocked a UN Security Council resolution crafted by the U.S., France, and the U.K. Tuesday, U.S. diplomatic sources told NBC News. Russia had pushed for a pathway for Syria to turn over its chemical stockpiles. The resolution included a provision that would have empowered the UN to enforce the agreement militarily under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter. That authorization of force made the Russians balk.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called on the U.S. to take the threat of military action off the table.
“It will function and will work out only if the U.S. and those who support it on this issue pledge to renounce the use of force, because it is difficult to make any country—Syria or any other country in the world—to unilaterally disarm if there is military action against it under consideration,” Putin told Russia Today.
“We need a full resolution from the Security Council in order to have the confidence that this has the force that it ought to have,” Kerry said in a Google Hangout Tuesday. “And obviously, right now the Russians are in a slightly different place on that.”
The Obama administration insisted that any Russia-Syria agreement on securing Syria's chemical weapons was made possible by the threat of U.S. military action.
Still, Obama said the U.S. could not take military options off the table.
“If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons,” Obama said from the East Room of the White House, adding that turning a blind eye would only bolster the use of chemical weapons by tyrants and terrorists worldwide.
Obama called the Russian proposal an “encouraging” sign, and said “It’s too early to tell whether this offer will succeed.”