As the US, Britain and France edged closer to approving strikes in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons, the Kremlin said that the West was moving down “a very dangerous path.”
“The use of force without the approval of the United Nations Security Council is a very grave violation of international law,” said Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister.
Russia would almost certainly use its position as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council to veto a resolution authorising military action. . . .
Both the US and Britain have signaled they are prepared to take action without UN backing. William Hague, the foreign secretary, said it would be “possible to respond to chemical weapons” even if a resolution failed at the Security Council.
Western powers are still likely to attempt a UN resolution “to show that they tried” but hold out little hope of success, said Jorge Benitez, a transatlantic security expert at the Atlantic Council think-tank.
With little prospect of UN approval, the West will look instead to Nato and to the Arab League to lend international credibility to a potential strike. . . .
Britain and the US will also hope to secure the backing of the Arab League, the 22-member body representing governments across the Middle East and North Africa. Its approval could help blunt criticisms that military intervention represents another Western attack against a Muslim nation.
“In the absence of UN Security Council approval the best thing the US and its allies could hope for in terms of diplomatic cover is an endorsement from the Arab League,” said Faysal Itani, a fellow at the Rafiki Hariri Centre for the Middle East.