MOSCOW, March 22 (UPI) -- Russia is considering unilateral action against violators of the Syria cease-fire, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
The cease-fire was brokered by the United States and Russia in February and agreed to by pro-government and rebel forces in Syria, though it did not include terrorist groups such as the Islamic State. It began on Feb. 27, and has brought most fighting to a halt in Syria, allowing humanitarian supplies to be delivered.
Russia's announcement comes after complaints that the United States has been slow to involve itself with monitoring violations of the truce, and slow to formalize the cease-fire with a draft agreement.
The statement Monday by the Russian Foreign Ministry mentioned the relative success of the cease-fire, but said: "We are still interested in devising the procedure of our response to cease-fire violations, coordinated with the U.S. and other members of the International Syria Support Group...however, we believe that procrastinating indefinitely the drafting of such common stance is dangerous and counterproductive. We do not rule out in this context that we will have to resort to the unilateral termination of actions of the gunmen who fail to honor the cease-fire."
As a Syrian peace conference in Geneva entered its second week, United Nations envoy Staffan di Mistura said he is concerned about a breakdown in cooperation between the United States and Russia, saying a cease-fire will not last long if progress on a political settlement, notably the future of the Syrian government under President Bashar al-Assad, is not made.
"The moment they (the United States and Russia) don't talk substantively, we go back to the past and we cannot afford it, and they know it too. It is clear that the political transition is the 'mother of all issues,'" de Mistura said Monday.