The UN Security Council has met to consider a draft resolution against Syria's government.
Activists and the Arab League urged the UN to take stronger action after an upsurge in violence this week in which dozens of people have died.
The UK, France and Germany drafted a resolution with Arab states supporting the League's call for President Bashar al-Assad to hand power to a deputy.
Russia, an ally of Mr Assad, has indicated it would not back the text.
Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin told reporters after the meeting in New York that the draft resolution was unacceptable in parts, but Moscow was ready to engage in talks about it, according to Reuters news agency.
Russia and China vetoed a previous draft resolution against Syria late last year.
The current draft, presented to the council by Morocco, largely supports a plan outlined by the Arab League earlier this week calling for Mr Assad to hand authority to a deputy, who would form a national unity government with the opposition within two months.
The draft resolution calls for further measures if the Syrian government does not comply with the call for political transition.
Moscow is concerned that any outside intervention would fuel a civil and sectarian war, and there are others on the Security Council who fear the same, says the BBC's Barbara Plett at the UN headquarters in New York.
She says it is unclear if the draft can be revised to meet Russia's concerns.
The council will not vote on the resolution until next week.
"There is now a chance that the Security Council will finally take a clear stand on Syria. That is long overdue,'' said German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.
The UN meeting comes amid a spike in violence across Syria, with activists reporting 135 people killed in the past two days.
Gen Mustafa al-Dabi, head of the Arab League's monitoring mission, said violence had soared "in a significant way" in recent days.
Earlier in the week, the general had claimed that the Arab League mission had helped reduce the level of violence in Syria.
Opposition forces have set up checkpoints in parts of the capital, and correspondents say forces loyal to Mr Assad appear unable to maintain control.
The UN has conceded it cannot keep track of the death toll, which it estimated as more than 5,400 people since the unrest began last March.
The government says it is fighting "terrorists and armed gangs" and claims that some 2,000 members of the security forces have been killed.