Security Council wants consensus on Syria

The UN Security Council plans to vote again on a resolution calling for an investigation into the poison gas attack allegedly carried out by Syrian government troops. A draft of the resolution failed to secure unanimous support last week due to Russia's abstention. Commentators disagree about how the West should deal with Moscow.

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The Times (GB) /

Putin must stop backing Assad

Now more than ever the West should press the Russian president to withdraw his support for the ruler in Damascus, The Time urges:

“If and when Mr Putin helps to replace Assad with a credible power-sharing government acceptable to the Syrian people, then it might be possible to readmit him to the G7 forum. … The main aim in the coming weeks should be to demonstrate to Russia that it must take responsibility for the behaviour of Assad. It was Mr Putin who saved Assad from a western missile attack in 2013 by offering to collect and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons. Russia was either duped in this endeavour or complicit in concealing parts of the arsenal. … It must be dawning on the Russian president that it is a matter of urgency to help to find an alternative to Assad. If there is one thing that Mr Putin does understand, it is self-interest.”

Český rozhlas (CZ) /

End of regime an unrealistic scenario

It would be naive to believe that the US will seek a confrontation with Russia, the public broadcaster Český rozhlas comments after the meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Italy:

“Russia has invested substantially in stabilising the Assad regime and improving its own military position in Syria. It will certainly not abandon this policy or change its course. The US, in turn, wants to avoid direct military confrontation with Russia. Nevertheless Washington will draw a line that it will refuse to see overstepped. Washington should also let the Russians know that they accepted responsibility for making sure that Assad no longer had any chemical weapons, and that they have failed in this task. Of course the US could insist that Assad be removed from power. But without Russia's agreement that will never happen.”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

Europe must remain neutral

Given the unpredictable behaviour of the US president Europe should be very cautious about backing the US against Russia, Corriere del Ticino warns:

“It is a double misfortune that after an initial flirt Trump has now set himself on a collision course with the other strongman on the international stage: Vladimir Putin. Russia's president undoubtedly possesses qualities that Trump lacks, but he also has a major fault: his authoritarian, perhaps even totalitarian method of rule. ... In this context Europe, some demand, must side with the Americans, as it did before the Berlin Wall came down. An untenable comparison in our view. Putin is authoritarian, but he is not threatening us. And the America that Trump is in the process of creating is certainly not Reagan's America. Europe should cultivate a healthy dose of unshakeable distrust vis-à-vis both.”