Russia ‘dismayed’ by Saudi-led airstrikes on Yemen

Moscow (AFP) – Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday he was “dismayed” that a Saudi-led coalition did not consult the UN Security Council prior to carrying out strikes in Yemen and urged negotiations to resolve the crisis.

“Right now (the operation) does not have any foundation in international law. Of course we were a little dismayed, to put it mildly, that the operation was begun without any consultations,” he said in an interview with RIA-Novosti news agency.

A coalition led by Saudi Arabia began a push last month against the Huthi Shiite rebels backed by Iran.

“We value our relations with Saudi Arabia, and with other coalition members, but they came to the Security Council post-factum, and started asking for approval of what they had begun,” Lavrov said.

“It would be impossible for us to approve of one side in the conflict, and to practically declare the other side outlaws,” he said.

Russia, a permanent UN Security Council member, has urged the council to push for a humanitarian pause in the strikes waged by Saudi Arabia and a coalition of five Gulf monarchies, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan.

Lavrov said opposing sides in the Yemen violence “must sit at the negotiating table. It is not beyond our capabilities,” he said, calling on Huthi rebels to stop fighting in the south and on the coalition to stop the air raids.

Lavrov said the situation in Yemen is “creating a new split, and a very deep one, between the Sunnis and the Shiites,” feeding tensions in the Persian Gulf.

Russia has good ties with Iran, with both sides backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the brutal civil war in his country.