Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gave a grim warning that failure to resolve the conflict in Syria could result in a “new world war.”
“The Americans and our Arab partners must think well: do they want a permanent war?” Lavrov said to German newspaper Handelsblatt Thursday, “all sides must be compelled to sit at the negotiating table instead of unleashing a new world war.”
He also noted such a war would be long and bloody, “especially in the Arab world, where everybody is fighting against everybody.”
Lavrov advocated for a negotiated settlement to the ongoing crisis which has seen around 470,000 Syrians killed in the five years since the civil war began, amounting to a 11.5 percent drop in the overall population of the country.
“All sides must be compelled to sit at the negotiating table instead of unleashing a new world war,” said Lavrov.
The possibility of a negotiated settlement has not been promising since the collapse of negotiations between government and opposition forces in Geneva last week. Opposition representatives from the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) blamed Russia for intentionally imploding the talks by engaging in a new bombing campaign against the key city of Aleppo as negotiations were ongoing.
“There is nothing to negotiate. Just go home,” said HNC negotiator Bassma Kodmani after the negotiations were suspended. The United Nations body acting as the intermediary hopes the talks will resume at the end of February.
Russia’s indiscriminate carpet bombing campaigns began late last year and are allegedly responsible for as many as 500 civilian deaths, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Lavrov’s warning comes just hours after Saudi Arabia reaffirmed its intention to send ground forces into Syria, possibly in conjunction with Turkey. Russia and Turkey have engaging in a war of words ever since Turkish forces downed a Russian military jet in November of last year. The event has sparked a series of moves between the two countries, the most recent of which involved Russia accusing Turkey of preparing to invade Syria last week.
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