World

Russia says UN vote on Syria will lead to 'scandal'

Russia's foreign minister sternly has warned that any attempt to put a draft resolution on Syria to vote at the United Nations would lead to "scandal," a blunt warning that Moscow is prepared to use its veto power.

Russia, China wield veto power at UN Security Council

Russia's foreign minister sternly warned Washington Saturday that any attempt to put a draft resolution on Syria to vote at the United Nations would lead to "scandal," a blunt warning that Moscow is prepared to use its veto power.

Sergey Lavrov said in an interview broadcast on Russian state television Rossiya that Moscow had submitted its mendments to the Western-backed draft. He said that Russia hopes that "bias will not prevail over common sense."

"If they want another scandal at the UN Security Council, we wouldn't be able to stop them," Lavrov said, voicing hope that Washington wouldn't put the draft to vote.

The UN Security Council is expected to meet Saturday morning to take up a Syria resolution.

Russia and China, which wield veto power at the Security Council, have blocked previous Western attempts to impose sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime over its crackdown on protests.

The UN has said that more than 5,400 people have been killed in violence since March. Hundreds more have been killed since that tally was announced, and activists say 200 died in the city of Homs on Saturday.

Russia is opposing any UN call for regime change or a military intervention in Syria, its last remaining ally in the region. The U.S. and its partners have ruled out military action but want the UN body to endorse an Arab League plan that calls on Assad to hand power over to Syria's vice president.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke with Lavrov by phone on Friday, and was to meet with him later in the day on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. Ahead of that, Clinton told the conference she was hopeful that the UN would be able to come to an agreement later in the day:

"As a tyrant in Damascus brutalizes his own people, America and Europe stand shoulder to shoulder. We are united, alongside the Arab League, in demanding an end to the bloodshed and a democratic future for Syria. And we are hopeful that at 10 a.m. Eastern Standard Time in New York the Security Council will express the will of the international community," she said.