Russia ‘isolated’ due to Syria stance: Juppé

France warned on Thursday that Russia's refusal to support efforts to put pressure on Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime was plunging Moscow deeper into international isolation on the issue.

Russia 'isolated' due to Syria stance: Juppé

“I regret that Russia continues to lock itself into a vision that isolates it more and more, not just from the Arab world but also from the international community,” Foreign Minister Alain Juppé told journalists.

Juppé was speaking ahead of talks in Paris with around 13 fellow foreign ministers from countries backing tougher action against Assad, and regretted that his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov would not be present.

“I personally invited Mr Lavrov to come,” he said.

With Russian opposition preventing the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution condemning Assad, an ad hoc group of states who dub themselves the “Friends of Syria” are examining other options.

France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy said Thursday that these could include the imposition of humanitarian corridors within Syria in order to get aid to beleaguered opposition bastions.

Juppé said the Paris meeting would also discuss boosting the number of UN monitors on the ground overseeing a theoretical ceasefire, which Assad has vowed to respect under a UN and Arab League peace plan.

“The regime is not living up to its undertakings. The ceasefire is not being respected,” Juppé said.

“Can we deploy an effective observer force on the ground, which would have numbers? We’d need at least 300 to 400 robust, well-equipped observers with the means to travel around the country,” he said.

“Our second objective: if that is not possible within a certain timeframe, what other measures or initiatives can we take to end the massacre.”

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Russia announces no New Year’s greetings for France, US, Germany

US President Joe Biden, France's Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will not be receiving New Year's greetings from Russian leader Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin said on Friday.

Russia announces no New Year's greetings for France, US, Germany

As the world gears up to ring in the New Year this weekend, Putin sent congratulatory messages to the leaders of Kremlin-friendly countries including Turkey, Syria, Venezuela and China.

But Putin will not wish a happy New Year to the leaders of the United States, France and Germany, countries that have piled unprecedented sanctions on Moscow over Putin’s assault on Ukraine.

“We currently have no contact with them,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“And the president will not congratulate them given the unfriendly actions that they are taking on a continuous basis,” he added.

Putin shocked the world by sending troops to pro-Western Ukraine on February 24.

While Kyiv’s Western allies refused to send troops to Ukraine, they have been supplying the ex-Soviet country with weapons in a show of support that has seen Moscow suffer humiliating setbacks on the battlefield.