Russian and Chinese diplomats have blocked a Western-backed United Nations Security Council resolution threatening Syria with sanctions over its government’s crackdown of an uprising that has left untold thousands dead.
The veto, which was the third to come out of Moscow and Beijing over Syria, has left many wondering if any resolution can be reached in regards to the UN’s mandated monitoring mission in Syria, which ends Friday.
Chief Military Observer, Major-General Robert Mood, head of the UN mission in Syria stressed the need for council members to come to an agreement, saying, “It pains me to say, but we are not on the track for peace in Syria and the escalations we have witnessed in Damascus over the past few days is a testimony to that.”
Susan Rice, United States ambassador to the United Nations said, “The Security Council has failed utterly in its most important task on its agenda this year.”
But, Vitaly Churkin, permanent representative of Russia to the United Nations blasted the resolution, saying “The draft which was just voted on was biased. The threats of sanctions were leveled exclusively at the government of Syria.” The Russian ambassador went further to accuse the Western members of fanning “the flames of conflict within the Security Council.”
However, Gérard Araud, French ambassador to the United Nations, blasted back, claiming Russia has a darker motive, saying “It is now clear that Russia merely wants to win time for the Syrian regime to smash the opposition.”
Araud’s claim comes amid continuing accusations that the Russian state-controlled defense supplier Rosoboronexport has become the chief arms dealer to the Syrian regime, signing deals that have included advanced jet fighter aircraft, anti-tank weapons, surface-to-air missiles and other anti-aircraft weapon systems.
China’s ambassador, Li Baodong, nonetheless echoed Churkin’s statement, calling the resolution “seriously problematic, with uneven content that is intended to put pressure on only one party.”
William Hague, foreign secretary of the United Kingdom disagreed when, in a videotaped statement on BBC News he called the veto “inexcusable and indefensible.” Hague went even further to say that Russia and China “have turned their back on the people of Syria in their darkest hour.”