Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (L), shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R), as Russian Foreign Intelligence chief Mikhail Fradkov (2nd R) looks on during their meeting in Damascus February 7, 2012. REUTERS

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has laughed off a suggestion by some Western nations that one way to end the bloodshed in Syria is to offer President Bashar al-Assad exile in Moscow.

Lavrov, who dismissed the idea of giving Assad refuge in his country as a “joke,” confirmed that the idea was raised by Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, during her meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month. The idea was again brought up at a Geneva summit meeting on Syria over the weekend.

Our side thought this was a joke and responded with a joke -- how about you, the Germans, take Mr. Assad instead, Lavrov told reporters at a joint press appearance with German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle.

At the Geneva parley, no mention was made of Assad’s fate.

While discussing the subject of Syria, I heard them [Western nations] say they were convinced that we [Russia] would take him and thus resolve all the problems of the Syrian people, Lavrov said.

This is either a dishonest attempt to deceive serious people involved in foreign policy or a misunderstanding of the facts.

However, in the event Assad chooses to flee Syria -- a growing likelihood after 16 months of an uprising that has killed at least 10,000 people destroyed what little global reputation he once had and led to the mass defection of hundreds of soldiers -- Russia is one of his few remaining allies, along with China.

But Russia is apparently getting tired of Assad’s slow pace of reform and the continuing violence against unarmed civilians, although it restated its refusal to allow foreign intervention in Syria.

Yes, the [Assad] regime bears the main responsibility. And governments bear the main responsibility for ensuring the security of their people, said Lavrov.

Patience has all but run out in Western nations with the situation in Syria.

Britain’s foreign secretary, William Hague, has warned that his country is prepared to intervene in Syria without the consent of Russia and China.

In a live chat of Twitter with the public, Hague conceded that Kofi Annan’s peace mission to Syria has failed and that the UK is prepared to seek a new U.N. Security Council resolution, or UNSCR, on Syria regardless of Moscow’s or Beijing’s wishes.

“Our strong preference is to work with Russia and China, but if [the] Annan plan fails, no option is ruled out,” Hague said.

We're working with them. We support stronger action by Friends of Syria. If no progress made will seek strong UNSCR. Sustainable U.N. presence requires cessation of violence. No option is ruled out. But military intervention [would] require international agreement and very large scale force.”