Russia and China disagreed once more with the West over Syria

Once again Russia and China vetoed the UN Security Council resolution envisaging sanctions against the Syrian regime. Source: AFP / East-News

Once again Russia and China vetoed the UN Security Council resolution envisaging sanctions against the Syrian regime. Source: AFP / East-News

Russia and China blocked another UN Security Council resolution on Syria: western wrath and the response of the Russian Ambassador to the UN.

On Thursday, Russia and China vetoed the UN Security Council resolution envisaging sanctions against the regime and the opposition in Syria if violence continued. Moscow and Beijing voted against the document initially proposed by the UK and backed by other Western countries.

Russia and China are calling for a political dialogue and oppose sanctions, which, they claim, in practice are aimed only against the Syrian Government, because the opposition consists of disparate groups, many of which do not obey anyone.

The vote was initially to take place on Wednesday but was postponed in the hope that a compromise would be reached at the request of the UN and Arab League Special Envoy Kofi Annan. Russia warned at once that it would exercise its right of veto. China joined it later.

As Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Vitaly Churkin said minutes before the vote, the Security Council had failed to reach a compromise on the draft resolution. Pending before the Security Council is an alternative draft resolution, prepared by Russia, that would extend the observer mission’s mandate by three months in the hope that a political process might get under way.

The document was submitted to the UN Security Council on Tuesday. That same day, during a meeting with the UN and Arab League Special Envoy Kofi Annan, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow was ready to do all it could to help bring about a settlement of the Syrian conflict. In particular, Russia proposed a meeting of an “Action Group” on Syria in Moscow in late July.

But the Western countries refused to work on the text of the Russian draft resolution, so Moscow will not even put it to the vote at the UN Security Council, Vitaly Churkin said on Thursday.

“We believe that continued confrontation within the Security Council is meaningless and counter-productive. We will refrain from putting our draft to the vote”, he was reported as saying at the UN Security Council by Interfax.

Commenting on the results of the vote, the US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice laid the blame for the continued violence in Syria on Bashar Assad, as well as Russia and China.  “The blame for this unacceptable situation lies not with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon or the joint special envoy Kofi Annan, or with the observers… The blame lies with the abhorrent regime and those member states that are still not taking firm actions against the regime”, she said.

She called Thursday “another black day for the Security Council.” Rice said the “first two vetoes were simply destructive and this one is even more dangerous and deeply regrettable.” She added that the US would not count on the UN observer mission in Syria to settle the situation in the country because its members were unarmed. Instead, Washington would work on a settlement of the Syrian crisis with its partners outside the UN SC.

Speaking in the same vein, British Ambassador to the UN Mark Lyall Grant expressed deep disappointment at the Russian and Chinese decision. “Russia and China are not complying with their obligations as permanent Security Council members to stop the crisis in Syria”, he said after the vote on the Western draft resolution.

Vitaly Churkin, for his part, said that the Western countries were giving no thought to the Syrian people, instead setting their own geopolitical targets and thus dooming Syria to an escalation of the armed conflict.

“Instead of engaging in crude insinuations regarding the policy pursued by Russia, which has never, at any time during the conflict, relinquished its efforts to bring about a political settlement and has always rendered key assistance to establishing the Kofi Annan mission, the Western Council members that today made unacceptable and unworthy statements could do at least something to help establish a dialogue between the sides in Syria, to prevent further militarisation of the Syrian crisis, and avoid instigating extremist, including terrorist, groups”, he said.

“The fact that these Pharisees have set their own geopolitical goals that have nothing to do with the interests of the Syrian people has effectively doomed the conflict to escalation, which has reached tragic proportions”, Churkin added.

The situation in Syria had meanwhile deteriorated. On Wednesday, a terrorist blew himself up in front of the National Security Service building during a joint meeting of the Security Service and government ministers there.

The heads of the main security agencies and some relatives of the Syrian President died in the blast. Thus, the Syrian rebels have carried out what they claim to be the most successful operation during the period of confrontation with the government troops.

On Thursday, the Syrian rebels were reported to be at the entrance to Bashar Assad’s palace, fighting units loyal to the President. Earlier, there were reports of fighting between the rebels and government troops on Wednesday in many parts of Damascus. In this context, it follows from an executive order issued by President Putin of Russia on Thursday that Russia intends to increase the number of its servicemen in the Syrian observer mission by sending 30 more representatives to the Arab republic.

First published in Vzglyad online newspaper. 

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