After the brutal crackdown by Bashar al-Assad’s troops on protesters in Syria over the weekend, William Hague was pleased to find the Russians scrapping their earlier reluctance to criticise the regime and join the growing global condemnation of Mr Assad.
His diplomats in New York will use the opportunity to try and push through once more a resolution that failed in June, condemning the violence. The resolution will be reworded to take into account this weekend’s events.
But given Russia’s complex political make-up, no one in the Foreign Office is taking anything for granted. One official warned: “It is not until we have sat in the meeting that we can get into how member states may be thinking.”
Even if the resolution is passed however, don’t expect it to make a huge amount of difference. Government sources here say it will show Mr Assad that his regime “lacks prestige” on the international stage.
The UK and other western governments hope a new round of EU sanctions will make a difference. Alistair Burt, the foreign office minister, told Sky News on Monday:
These are sanctions against targeted individuals and what this does is this tells them that they have been noticed for what they are doing, that they will be held accountable and responsible.
But as Hague himself admitted earlier in the day:
The levers that we have in the situation are relatively limited, but we should be frank in admitting that and then working with the ones that we have.