The United Nations Security Council has failed to agree on a statement condemning Syria's violent crackdown against antigovernment protesters, in which hundreds of people have died.
The Western-led effort to agree on a statement collapsed on April 27 due to resistance from Security Council members Russia and China, among others.
Russian Deputy UN Ambassador Aleksandr Pankin told the Security Council meeting that Moscow did not believe that the Syrian crackdown on opposition demonstrators constitutes a threat to international security.
Pankin warned that outside interference in the crisis could lead to civil war in Syria.
"The important thing, we believe, is that despite the escalation of tensions and confrontation, the current situation in Syria does not pose a threat to international peace and security," Pankin said.
The Russian envoy added that members of the Syrian security forces had also been killed during the unrest.
UN political affairs chief B. Lynn Pascoe, however, told the meeting that there had been only a few credible reports of Syrian security forces being attacked by protesters.
Pascoe said evidence suggested that between 350 and 400 people have been killed by Syrian security forces since mid-March.
The UN debate on Syria occurred following criticism from permanent veto-holding Security Council members Russia and China of the Security Council-backed intervention to protect civilians in Libya.
Moscow and Beijing have suggested that the NATO-led operation in support of Libyan rebels has gone beyond the Security Council's original authorization.
Britain, France, Germany, and Portugal, backed by the United States, had led the effort for a Security Council statement on Syria.
EU Considering Sanctions
Meanwhile, the EU said on April 27 that the bloc's ambassadors would discuss imposing sanctions on Syria at a special meeting on April 29.
Michael Mann, spokesman for EU chief diplomat Catherine Ashton, said that "all options are on the table."
Mann condemned the crackdown by Syrian security forces on antigovernment demonstrators, saying it was "unacceptable to shoot at protesters."
Germany has already said it would strongly back EU sanctions against Syria. "Syria stands at a dangerous crossroads," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said.
"If the Syrian leadership doesn't immediately change its course, then the international community will have to act and sanctions against Syria will be unavoidable."
compiled from agency reports