Speaking after his meeting with Lavrov, Brahimi said neither side in Syria is showing signs of backing down.
"The government says they are fighting terrorists and only terrorists, and that it is their duty to do so -- to protect their people. And the other side says we're fighting a very cruel government that is persecuting us, and we're defending ourselves," Brahimi said after the meeting.
He recalled speaking with a woman who has one son in the Syrian military and another son in the rebel Free Syrian Army. "If that is not civil war, I don't know what is," Brahimi said.
Diplomacy with Russia is a delicate dance. Russia, along with China, has repeatedly vetoed attempts at the U.N. Security Council to take stronger action against al-Assad.
Many have accused Russia of backing the Syrian government, but Russia says it just wants a political solution for Syria determined by its own people.