- Associated Press - Thursday, February 16, 2012

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia opposes a draft resolution on Syria at the U.N. General Assembly, saying it focuses entirely on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime and fails to address the armed opposition, a top Russian diplomat said Thursday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said the new document differs little from a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that Russia and China vetoed earlier this month.

“We can’t vote for that resolution, because it still remains unbalanced,” Mr. Gatilov said, according to Russian news agencies. “It directs all the demands at the government and says nothing about the opposition.”

General Assembly resolutions can’t be vetoed and are nonbinding, but they reflect world opinion on major issues. Supporters of the Arab-sponsored resolution hope for a high “yes” vote to deliver a strong message to Mr. Assad’s regime.

Arab countries have rejected amendments to the resolution proposed by Russia.

Mr. Gatilov said a U.N. Security Council resolution would be required to send any U.N. peacekeepers to Syria.

Russia has warned that it would block any U.N. resolution calling for Mr. Assad to step down over his crackdown on an 11-month uprising estimated to have killed more than 5,400.

Moscow has maintained close ties with Damascus since the Cold War, when Syria was led by the current leader’s father, Hafez Assad.