After twice blocking the United Nations Security Council from taking action on the Syrian conflict, Russia announced it will stop shipping weapons and will not sign any military deals with Syria until the violence subsides, state-run media reported.
“Russia, as well as other countries, is concerned by the situation in Syria,” Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, the of the chiefs in Russia’s military cooperation agency, told the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency. “We are not talking about new arms supplies to that country.”
Specifically, Russia will not deliver Yak-130 military training aircraft to Syria until the situation gets better, he added. Syria signed an agreement with Russia for $550 million to deliver around 36 Yak-130s.
“Until the situation stabilizes we will not deliver any new weapons [to Syria],” Dzirkaln said.
Russia’s announcement comes after months of criticism from the United States and other Western countries that it was supplying weapons that could be used to kill civilians. Both Russia and China have vetoed any action by the Security Council.
At the Friends of Syria meeting in Paris last week, the United States and France lead a call for tough sanctions against Damascus. U.S. Secretary of States Hillary Clinton also urged those present to take a stern tone with Russia and China to get them to stop blocking these efforts.
“I don’t think Russia and China believe they are paying any price at all—nothing at all—for standing up on behalf of the Assad regime. The only way that will change is if every nation represented here directly and urgently makes it clear that Russia and China will pay a price, because they are holding up progress – blockading it – that is no longer tolerable,” said Clinton.Russia’s latest announcement, may be a sign of a change of heart.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday also held talks with United Nationes special envoy Kofi Annan and agreed on “calculated approaches to alleviate violence in Syria,” state-run television said.
The two announcements come after opposition groups said that more than 60 civilians were killed across the country, including seven children and three defectors, on Sunday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that around 30 people, including 20 civilians, were killed Monday.
The U.K.-based Observatory says more than 17,129 people have been killed in the unrest since March 2011, reported The Associated Press. Around 11,897 of the deaths have been civilians.