Russia admitted for the first time today that President Bashar al-Assad could be losing control of his country and the rebels might win the civil war.
Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov didn't suggest that Syria's most powerful ally could change its stance and stop blocking international sanctions.
"We must look at the facts: There is a trend for the government to progressively lose control over an increasing part of the territory," Mr Bogdanov told hearings at a Kremlin advisory body. "An opposition victory can't be excluded."
Mr Bogdanov reaffirmed Russia's call for a compromise, warning that it would take the opposition a long time to defeat the regime at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives.
"If such a price for the removal of the president seems acceptable to you, what can we do? We, of course, consider it absolutely unacceptable."
The foreign minister repeated that Russia would stick to an agreement reached in Geneva in June calling for negotiations involving the government and the opposition.
Russia has joined China at the UN security council to veto three resolutions that would have imposed sanctions on Assad's regime.
Meanwhile, in Syria, a bomb blast near the capital Damascus killed 16 people when a car packed with explosives blew up near a school in the south-western suburb of Qatana.
And elsewhere, US officials alleged that Syrian government forces have fired at least six Scud missiles from the Damascus area into northern Syria.
Syria's Foreign Ministry angrily denied the claims, labelling them as nothing more than a conspiracy.
Nato also put its two-penn'orth into the discussion over the prospects for President Assad's government.
"I think the regime in Damascus is approaching collapse," secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen opined today.