Russia does not want to see Syria turned into a second Libya, where the U.S. and NATO step in on one side of the conflict and decide winners and losers.
Rather, Russia believes Syria should decide it's own fate.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made this clear on Dec. 9 when he said: "We'll not allow the Libyan experience to be reproduced in Syria. Unfortunately our Western partners have departed from the Geneva Accords and are seeking the departure of [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad." But regardless of this, Lavrov says Russia will do all it can to keep the West from deciding the outcome.
The Russian position faces heavy criticism, under accusations that it is pro-Assad or that it doesn't take the growing threat from chemical weapons into account.
But Russia says it "has no special interest" in seeing Assad remain in power. Rather, it wants to see the Syrian people make that decision. And regarding chemical weapons, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev says Syrian leadership has assured Russia there will be "no spread" of chemical weapons.
Because of this, both Patrushev and Lavrov said their greater concern was not what Assad might do with chemical weapons, but what the Al Qaeda fighters in the Syrian opposition might do if they are able to take the weapons from him.