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Hands off Syria and Iran: Russia
RUSSIA has made clear it will not support any Western military intervention in Syria or Iran, warning that such a course could lead to nuclear war.
In Moscow's strongest declaration to date, Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev said the two countries should be allowed to sort out their own affairs, signalling that the Kremlin's resistance to any intervention was hardening.
"Hasty military operations in foreign states usually bring radicals to power," he said.
"At some point such actions, which undermine state sovereignty, may lead to a full-scale regional war, even, although I do not want to frighten anyone, with the use of nuclear weapons."
Mr Medvedev issued the warning before departing for this weekend's Group of Eight meeting in the US, which will discuss Syria and Iran.
The comments came as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said al-Qa'ida may have been behind the two mass bombings in Damascus on May 10 that killed 55 people and wounded hundreds.
"Very alarmingly and surprisingly, a few days ago there was a huge serious massive terrorist attack," he said. "I believe there must be al-Qa'ida behind it."
The US is expected to argue at the G8 summit that tougher action needs to be taken against Syria and that Iran was not responding to pressure to allow access to its nuclear facilities.
Russia has steadfastly refused to support a resolution at the UN Security Council calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign.
And Moscow has rejected calls by countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar to provide weapons to the rebel Free Syrian Army, which developed out of the protest movement, to try to overthrow the Assad regime.
Russia's publicly stated reason for refusing to back intervention in Syria is that the UN resolution on Libya, which it reluctantly supported, was abused.
The UN supported a no-fly-zone against Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, but NATO began months of bombing, which it said was necessary to disable Libya's military forces before it could enforce the no-fly-zone.
Russia claimed Britain and France turned the operation from defensive to offensive, and Moscow frequently cites Libya as a reason why the UN Security Council cannot be trusted with any sweeping resolution.
Russia is also profiting from the crisis, and its sales of weapons to Syria are estimated to have risen about 20 per cent, to $US1.5 billion ($1.52bn), in the past year.
Britain's UN ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant, has criticised Russia for continuing to export arms to Syria: "It is glaringly obvious that transferring weapons into a volatile and violent situation is irresponsible and will only fuel the bloodshed."
More than 10,000 people are believed to have been killed in Syria since the uprising began in May last year.
In recent months, the crisis has changed from a protest movement to a civil war, with the rebel Free Syrian Army trying to overthrow the Assad regime.