British foreign secretary Boris Johnson says Russia should be investigated for Syrian war crimes.
Mr Johnson, who threw his hat into the ring to replace then Prime Minister Davdid Cameron before stepping out of the race for the top job, urged anti-war protestors to demonstrate outside the Russian embassy in London.
He said while the “mills of justice grind slowly, they grind small,” adding that those who had committed war crimes in Syria would eventually be brought to justice before the international criminal court.
His comments marked a further cooling of relations between Russia and the west.
Senior Tories said the Russian bombings in the city of Aleppo were similar to the Nazi bombardment of Guernica in the Spanish civil war.
However, he stopped short of supporting a no-fly zone to be imposed over Syria, saying that if those sanctions were to be imposed, we would have to be fully prepared to shoot down aircraft which violated that zone. Nor did he rule it out, adding that he could understand why the call was being made.
The British government is believed to be prepared to move towards a tougher stance on Syrian policy if Hillary Clinton wins the presidential elections in the US. However, senior world policy analysts say eastern Aleppo is more than likely to have fallen to forces loyal to President Bashar by then.
Mr Johnson has made his own position clear, saying he would like to see demonstrations taking place outside the Russian embassy. “Where is the Stop the War coalition?” he asked.
The former London mayor insisted, however, that he wasn’t leading an anti-Russia campaign. America, he pointed out, had tried everything it could to bring about a ceasefire, but had come to the conclusion that Russia was still determined to help President Bashar al-Assad in his onslaught.
A Twitter post from the Russian embassy simply said: “Very unusual call from the foreign secretary to hold demonstrations in front of the Russian embassy,” asking: “New form of British democracy?”
Meanwhile, Russian president Vladimir Putin has cancelled a planned state visit to Paris after French president Francois Hollande said they would need to talk about Syria.
A statement put out by the Russian embassy, said: “The jihadists keep terrorising the civilians and fighting, rejecting ceasefire and humanitarian aid deliveries.
“Britain’s logic implies putting an end to fighting terrorists and their allies. Our logic is different. Fight on to destroy the jihadists, sparing the civilians.”