UK warns Russia risks becoming pariah over Syria operations

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says the West needs to step up its pressure on Russia and the Syrian regime through sanctions.

Photo by: AP (Archive)
Photo by: AP (Archive)

Russia has helped the Syrian regime gain the upper hand against opposition forces in the country's five-year-long civil war.

Russia risks becoming a pariah state if it continues to bomb civilians in Syria, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Tuesday.

Western nations on the United Nations Security Council are taking a tougher line against Russia amid growing anger over a Russian-backed Syrian regime onslaught against opposition-held areas in Aleppo.

"If Russia continues on its current path then I think that great country is in danger of becoming a pariah nation," Johnson said.

"In the end, if [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's strategy is the greatness and glory of Russia then he risks seeing that turned to ashes as people view his actions with contempt," he said.

Boris Johnson was labelled as a Russian apologist after remarks blaming the European Union for Ukraine conflict. (Reuters File photo)

The debate was opened when British politician Andrew Mitchell suggested that Russia should be treated as a ‘pariah,’ saying: "The Kremlin, like any bully, is winning credibility if no-one stands up to them."

"What Russia are doing to the United Nations is precisely what Italy and Germany did to the League of Nations in the 1930s. And they are doing to Aleppo precisely what the Nazis did to Guernica in the Spanish Civil War."

Russia has helped the Syrian regime gain the upper hand against opposition forces on many frontlines in the five-year-long conflict.

More than 300,000 people have been killed and over half the country displaced since the war began in March 2011. (Reuters File photo)

Russian jets resumed heavy bombing of opposition-held parts of eastern Aleppo on Tuesday after several days of relative calm, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Aleppo has been divided between the regime in the west and the opposition in the east throughout much of the war. 

Johnson called on Western countries to step up their pressure on Russia and the Syrian regime through sanctions. He also invited anti-war protest groups to demonstrate outside the Russian embassy in London.

But his calls were not welcomed by the Russian embassy.

The British foreign secretary's words appear to suggest a change in his stance towards Russia. In August, Johnson said that Britain should normalise its relations with Russia after years of hostility.

Ties between the two countries have been strained since the poisoning of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.

London and Moscow also hold different positions Ukraine crisis, with the UK standing firmly with the Ukrainian government while Russia backs rebels in the country's east. 

TRTWorld and agencies