Russian President Vladamir Putin said today that he will "do everything" in order to support Kofi Annan's peace plan for Syria.
AFP and Al Arabiya News quoted the Russian president as saying that "from the very start, from the first steps, we supported and continue to support your efforts aimed at restoring civil peace." He also assured Mr. Annan that his country will "do everything that depends on us to support your efforts."
This meeting comes just a day before western powers plan to have a vote at the UN Security Council over a resolution that will place sanctions on the Assad regime. Russia has consistently vetoed any such resolution that will place sanctions on Assad or force a transitional plan on his regime. Russia has also recently accused the western powers of attempting to 'blackmail' it into agreeing to such resolutions against Syria.
Moscow has proposed an alternative draft to extend the U.N. observer mission in Syria (whose mandate is scheduled to expire on Friday unless its mission is renewed) for another three months. However it does not want to take any action that will put pressure on Assad if he does not withdraw his heavy weaponry from Syrian cities.
The U.N. observer force was supposed to oversee the implementation of Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan last April. But it failed to come into any effect and violence has intensified since then. Annan's visit to Moscow seems to be a last ditch effort to get Russian support to help implement his plan.
Russia has stated it is not supporting Assad, however it continues to supply him with arms. Since NATO's aid to rebels in Libya last year that overthrew Colonel Gaddafi Russia has been adamant in ensuring that western powers do not intervene in the affairs of the Syria state. President Putin was quoted as saying that "the manner in which the Syrian crisis is resolved will largely determine the model the world community uses to respond to future internal conflicts of nations."
Russia's stance is essentially one of calling upon both sides of the civil war in Syria to immediately implement Annan's peace plan and follow the guidelines for political transition that were outlined in the meeting hosted by Mr. Annan at Geneva last month. Russia however opposes the resolution which ties all of this to Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter, which would authorize the use of force by the U.N. allowing it to militarily intervene in Syria in order to bring the conflict to an end.