Russia vetoes US resolution for probe into Syria attacks

Published April 11, 2018
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks to her Russian counterpart Vassily Nebenzia during a UN Security Council meeting in New York on Tuesday.—AFP
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks to her Russian counterpart Vassily Nebenzia during a UN Security Council meeting in New York on Tuesday.—AFP

UNITED NATIONS: The United States and Russia both failed in their attempts at the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to set up a mechanism for determining the blame for a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria last week.

Although the council adopted a US-drafted resolution that would have paved the way for an inquiry into the attack in Douma which killed 40 people, Russia used its veto power to block the move.

Twelve countries voted in favour, Bolivia joined Russia in voting against the resolution and China abstained.

Moscow-drafted resolution defeated

A resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by Russia, China, France, Britain or the United States to pass.

After Russia’s veto of the US draft, a Moscow-sponsored resolution failed to sail through as seven countries voted against it. Five Council members, including China, backed the measure. Two countries abstained.

US, Russia trade barbs

Before the voting, the United States and Russia launched verbal attacks against each other.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the chemical weapons attack in Douma was “staged” and that US military action would have “grave repercussions”.

US envoy Nikki Haley said Russia, a Syrian military backer, had the “blood of Syrian children” on its hands.

The Security Council’s emergency meeting was convened amid a sharp deterioration in the situation following reports of a chemical weapons attack in Douma, a town in Syria’s eastern Ghouta region.

After the bitter debate the Security Council diplomats went into closed-door consultations to see if there was anything to salvage from the three proposals for a way forward.

According to diplomats, the US position was that “we are negotiating in good faith”, but the world was looking up to the Council to act.

The US said its draft had taken Russia’s concerns into account and it was ready to work with all Council members to hammer out a consensus, but “we need to move quickly”.

The US had called upon the Security Council to adopt a resolution that would condemn “in the strongest terms” the use of chemical weapons in Syria and establish a new body to determine responsibility for chemical attacks.

The draft resolution singled out Saturday’s attack in Douma and expressed “outrage that individuals continue to be killed and injured by chemical weapons”.

President Donald Trump pledged on Monday that the incident would “be met forcefully”, adding that the US had several military options and a decision on a response would be taken “shortly”.

Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2018

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