Russia's approach towards the crisis in Syria has attracted much criticism in Western and some Arab capitals. Moscow has supported a United Nations-led process to establish a political solution in Syria, and has periodically received visiting representatives of Syria's opposition movement over the last 18 months, but it has refused to back any UN Security Council resolution threatening sanctions or military force against the Syrian government. It has, moreover, also refused to back any demand that President Bashar al-Assad step down as a precondition for talks. Russia has supplied military equipment to Syria during the conflict, though deliveries were reportedly halted indefinitely in July 2012.
Statements that Russia is simply 'protecting its ally' or 'protecting its arms market' are unwarranted. Its stance on Syria is informed by a number of considerations and interests, at both an international and a regional level, as well as in Syria itself.