ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - In the end, the G20 summit that wrapped up here Friday will be remembered for all the squabbling about Syria.
And yet, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his G20 peers headed home, the world was no closer to ending the 30-month Syrian civil war that's left more than 100,000 dead and made refugees of more than two million people, half of them children.
"We're at an impasse here in terms of what the world community believes should or shouldn't be done," Harper told reporters. "Those who act have our full support."
And in fact, those who act — most likely the U.S. or France — have the support of 11 countries who issued a powerful joint statement Friday that they negotiated on the sidelines of the G20. Among other things it calls for "a strong international response to this grave violation of the world's rules and conscience that will send a clear message that this kind of atrocity can never be repeated."
The strongly worded statement was signed by Canada, the U.S., France, the U.K., Italy, Spain, Turkey, Japan, Korea, Australia, and Saudi Arabia and could be seen as a direct challenge to the authority of the UN Security Council.
The chief opponent of this view is Russian President Vladimir Putin who, along with other countries, insists no military action should proceed without the approval of the UN Security Council, where Russia has a veto.
Those countries, Harper said, "say (chemical weapon use) is a terrible thing that cannot be tolerated, that something must be done about, but they say at the same time that the absolute authority of the Security Council is necessary for any action even if that means no action at all will be taken. And we do not share that philosophy.
"Obviously we would prefer to see global consensus on this but I think we share the view of our allies that when we see developments that we think in the long term are dangerous for the planet and therefore for us as well, we are simply not prepared to accept the idea that there is a Russian veto over all of our actions."
And while Canada is not in a position to offer its own military assets for use in Syria, Harper did provide an additional $45 million for groups helping Syrian refugees. With that new contribution, Canada will have provided $203 million in aid since the beginning of 2012.
On Thursday night here, G20 leaders spent most of a two-hour working dinner inside the ornate 18th century Konstantinovsky Palace talking about Syria.
Harper called the dinner discussion "extremely frank but respectful" and said he had a warning for other leaders.
"(If) we're gonna sit back and allow a regime to try and win a military conflict with the use of chemical weapons, we are in ... brand new territory that is extremely dangerous and that there will be no turning back from," Harper said. "Even the most ferocious, despicable and brutal powers for the past 100 years have all stayed away from this kind of warfare."
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron also did his best to win over Putin at a 2 a.m. one-on-one meeting, but was bitterly disappointed with the result.
"(Putin) is miles away from what I think the truth is and miles away from what lots of us believe," Cameron told British reporters.
Obama also pressed Putin in a private 20-minute meeting Friday, but the two remained far apart.
Harper didn't have any private meetings with Putin — having pressed his points on Syria at a meeting the two men had in Vladivostok last fall -- but Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird tried to convince his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, to see things Canada's way when they met Friday morning.