Russia, China Veto UN Resolution On Syria
This was the third such veto of a United Nations motion concerning Syria by the two permanent members of the Security Council since the fighting began. Given the context of escalating violence in recent days, with the massacre at Tremseh and the assassination of high-level Assad officials signaling increasing desperation by the regime and danger to civilians, there was tremendous pressure to get something done, and Western officials could not hide their exasperation with the UN's failure to pass the British-backed resolution. As the New York Times reports:
The British ambassador, Sir Mark Lyall Grant, told the council after the vote, which was broadcast live on the United Nations Web site, that Britain was “appalled by the decision of Russia and China to veto this resolution aimed at ending the bloodshed in Syria.”
Speaking to reporters outside the council’s chambers later, Ambassador Grant said: “Frankly, it is impossible to understand why China and Russia felt it necessary to veto this text.”
The United States was also bitterly disappointed and appears to have lost complete confidence in the ability of the UN to stop the Assad regime from killing civilians in any meaningful way, as Reuters reports:
"The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said the Security Council had 'failed utterly', and Washington would look outside the body for ways 'to bring pressure to bear on the Assad regime and to deliver assistance to those in need'"
France explicitly called out Russia for taking the side of its longtime friends in the Assad family, according to the AFP:
"It is clear that Russia only aims to give more time to the Syrian regime to crush the opposition," said France's envoy Gerard Araud.
As the New York Times article cited above reports, former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, now acting as a special envoy of the UN and Arab League, negotiated a peace plan that calls for a cease-fire in which the regime would extend the first gesture by stopping its use of heavy weapons against civilians. Thursday's resolution would call for the peace plan to be put in place within 10 days, and failure to do so would have allowed for economic sanctions against Syria under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. Although not called for in the British resolution, this chapter includes provisions for the use of military force down the line.
The Russian ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, drew a line, saying his country "simply cannot accept" threatening Syria with economic sanctions and military action, and tried to turn the situation around, saying that Western countries who supported this resolution did not do so out of concern for Syrians, but Iranian influence.
"'I’m tempted to quote from the American presidential campaign’s 'It’s the economy, stupid,'' Mr. Churkin said. 'But I’m crossing out ‘economy.’ It’s about Iran. It’s about changes, some unexpected to our Western colleagues.'"
Through a spokesman, the White House called the veto "deplorable" and China and Russia "on the wrong side of history," according to Politico.
See more of Neon Tommy's coverage of Syria here.
Reach Executive Producer Matt Pressberg here.