The Assads have institutionalized a Mafia of thugs and assassins running Syria for Decades.
What is pertinent is that Medvedev parried the fundamental question: Will Russia go the extent of vetoing a resolution on Syria (which is being mooted by Britain, France and Germany and with US support) or will it repeat its previous show of abstention on R-1973? This is going to be a litmus test of the state of play in Moscow's policies towards the West - and indeed of the lay of the land in world politics. Russia today says it was caught unaware by R-1973's scope for "manipulation". But will that rich experience of hindsight about western perfidy guide the Kremlin to point blank say 'nyet' to a vote on Syria? Or, will it again choose to be pragmatic - and simply moralize? Other non-western UNSC members such as India and Brazil too will be taking stock of Russia's example.
Medvedev is meeting Barack Obama at the G-20 later this month. The US will certainly propose some trade-offs for accommodating Moscow's grievances regarding deployment of ABM systems in Europe. Will Syria be a big-ticket item in the basket of trade-offs? For Russia, selling Syria down the drain of a western-sponsored "regime-change" route will be a bitter pill to take. Russian interests go quite deep in Syria. The entire Middle East will be watching since Syria is also a traditional ally of Russia. Most important, China will be watching. Beijing may oppose a western move on Syria only to the extent Moscow is willing to go in the Security Council. That is to say, the so-called Sino-Russian "joint cooperation" over the Middle East and North Africa, too, is in the western crosshairs.
Meanwhile, France claims it is close to winning the baseline support of 9 UN SC member countries for the resolution on Syria, which means it will sail through unless Russia or China casts a veto.