Russian Federation vetoes United Nations resolution on Syria after suspected chemical attack

It was the 12th time that Russian Federation has used its veto power at the council to block action targeting its Syrian ally. Bolivia also voted against the US text.

Tuesday's veto by Russian Federation was its 12th over Security Council action against Syria since the Syrian civil war started seven years ago.

After warning Monday of "grave repercussions" of U.S. military action, the Russian ambassador urged the United States to "come to your senses" and refrain from ordering strikes on Syria.

Sweden's ambassador, Olof Skoog, who tried unsuccessfully to find a compromise solution, told the council after the third vote that he was disappointed.

"They're the gold standard in collecting this type of information (about chemical weapons use), and we would certainly rely upon them, as we have in other instances, to take a look at that", she said.

Addressing the Security Council, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the Washington-drafted "is the bare minimum that the council can do to respond to the attack". It vetoed UNSC action on Syria on twelve previous occasions.

Rival draft resolutions by both the USA and Russian Federation to set up a new expert body to probe chemical weapons attacks in Syria have failed to pass at the United Nations Security Council.

Twelve council members voted in favour, while Bolivia joined Russian Federation in voting against, and China abstained.

Condemning Moscow's veto, US Permanent Representative Nikki Haley said, "History will record that, on this day, Russian Federation chose protecting a monster over the lives of the Syrian people".

Haley said the main difference between the US-drafted text and the Russian one is that Russia wanted to choose the investigators and assess the outcome while the U.S. text allows for an independent investigation. Russia's resolution gives Russian Federation itself the chance to choose the investigators and then to assess the outcome. "Does any of that sound independent or impartial?"

European governments said they will wait for the results of the OPCW investigation and for more solid forensic evidence before taking the next step on the matter.

"We are at a very fragile phase of council deliberations now and we need to reflect carefully on the way forward to ensure that we don't jump into further paralysis (that is) hard to defend or fix", Skoog said.

"You do not want to hear the fact that no traces of a chemical attack were found in Douma", Nebenzia said.

He accused the United States of introducing the resolution knowing it would not pass so they could use it as a pretext to attack Syria. Russian Federation requested the draft to be voted on alongside two competing draft resolutions on a broader investigative mechanism for chemical weapons use in Syria.

He said the resolution was trying to recreate the old expert body, whose extension Moscow blocked in November. While Britain, France, the United States and Poland voted against it, six others abstained.

Nebenzia said two groups of OPCW experts could be on the ground "as early as this week".

  • Joey Payne