Russia Again Vetoes Resolution on Syria

For the fifth time, Russia uses its veto power to block a statement that would have condemned Assad for "barrel bomb" attacks.

Elad Benari ,

UN Security Council
UN Security Council
AFP photo

Russia has once again blocked a UN Security Council statement that would have expressed outrage at deadly airstrikes by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's forces and condemned the use of missiles and "barrel bombs" in towns, Reuters reported Wednesday.

Russia, a staunch Assad ally, opposed a similar statement on December 19 that would have condemned attacks by Syrian government troops on civilians.

Russia, joined by China, has also vetoed three other Security Council resolutions that would have condemned Assad's government and threatened it with sanctions.

The council could not reach agreement on Wednesday because amendments proposed by Russia were "clearly designed to rob the statement of any reference to what has happened in Aleppo," a UN diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

A spokesman for the Russian mission declined to comment.

The British-drafted statement would have had the council express outrage at daily airstrikes by the Syrian government in the northern city of Aleppo where it said more than 700 people have been killed and 3,000 injured since December 15.

The December 19 resolution vetoed by Russia was drafted by the United States and also condemned the Syrian government over the Aleppo strikes.

Syrian authorities have said they are battling rebels controlling large portions of Aleppo, once Syria's business hub and largest city, which is now divided between government and rebel forces.

The longstanding deadlock on the Security Council was briefly broken in late September and early October when the 15-nation body agreed a resolution demanding the eradication of Syria's chemical weapons program and a statement calling for increased aid access and humanitarian pauses in the fighting.

Russia supplies Assad with ground-to-surface interceptor missiles as well as warplanes and helicopters and other heavy machinery meant for national self-defense.

The latest Russian veto comes days before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. The two will meet in Paris on Monday to discuss the possibility of having Iran attending the planned “Geneva 2” peace conference on Syria.

On Monday, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon started sending out invitations to the peace conference, but Iran was not on the first list.

Russia supports participation by Tehran while Kerry, who has negotiated a thaw with Iran on its disputed nuclear program, has said that the clerical regime could play a role in the Syria conference from the "sidelines."