Saying that his country is “not violating any international law,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today defended his country’s sale of weapons to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. He said Russia is not supplying anything that “can be used in battles with peaceful demonstrators.”
And, Reuters reports, he “accused the United States of supplying rebels with weapons to fight against the government” — a charge the U.S. has rejected many times.
This all comes a day after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. has evidence that Russia is sending attack helicopters to Syria — an action she said will “escalate the conflict quite dramatically.”
As The New York Times writes this morning, “with evidence that powerful new weapons are flowing to the Syrian government and to opposition fighters, the bloody uprising in Syria has thrust the Obama administration into an increasingly difficult position as the conflict shows signs of mutating into a full-fledged civil war.”
Full-fledged civil war is just what U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous thinks is happening in Syria, as we reported Tuesday.
The Times adds that opposition forces in Syria:
“Have recently received more powerful antitank missiles from Turkey, with the financial support of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, according to members of the Syrian National Council, the main opposition group in exile, and other activists.
“The United States, these activists said, was consulted about these weapons transfers. Officials in Washington said the United States did not take part in arms shipments to the rebels, though they recognized that Syria’s neighbors would do so.”
State Department spokesman Mark Toner has said many times, as recently as last week, that the U.S. does not support “further militarization of the situation in Syria” and has been supplying only “nonlethal assistance to the Syrian opposition — communications equipment, that sort of stuff.”