Russia vetoes U.N. move on Syria chemical arms
Moscow, China veto resolution over use of chemical arms.
Russia and the Trump administration clashed in a vote at the U.N. Security Council for the first time Tuesday as the Kremlin vetoed a measure backed by the Americans to punish Syria for using chem- ical weapons.
While the Russians had long signaled their intent to block the resolution, which was supported by dozens of countries, the clash offered insights into the big divisions that remain between the Kremlin and President Don- ald Trump, who has vowed to improve ties.
Russia and China, two of the five permanent members of the council, blocked the measure. It was the Krem- lin’s seventh Security Coun- cil veto in defense of Syrian President Bashar Assad over the war that has been convulsing his country for nearly six years.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who has called chem- ical weapons attacks in Syria “barbaric,” accused Russia and China of putting “their friends in the Assad regime ahead of our global secu- rity” in her blunt rebuke of
the vetoes. “It is a sad day on the Secu- rity Council,” Haley said after the vote. “When members start making excuses for other member states kill- ing their own people, the world is definitely a more dangerous place.”
Diplomats said Haley had insisted on putting the measure up for a vote this week, signaling a desire to take a tough stand on Russia.
In recent weeks, Haley has condemned what she called Russia’s “aggressive actions” in eastern Ukraine, vowed to maintain sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and, in her Senate confirmation hearing, went as far as saying that Russia was guilty of war crimes in Syria.
Her comments on Russia have sometimes contradicted the more conciliatory language of Trump, who has made clear his desire to increase cooperation with Russia.
The resolution, proposed by Britain and France months ago and endorsed by the United States last week, would have imposed sanctions on a handful of Syrian military officials and entities for having dropped chlorine-filled barrel bombs on opposition-held areas on at least three occasions in 2014 and 2015, according to a U.N. panel.
Russia’s envoy, Vladimir Safronkov, defended the veto, calling the resolution “politically biased” and asserting that Russia’s concerns about the draft lan g uage had not been addressed.
China’s ambassador, Liu Jieyi, recalling the now-discredited U.S. warnings of Iraq’s “so-called WMDs” in 2003, criticized the resolution as an example of “hypocrisy” by the Western powers.
Chlorine is banned as a weapon under an international treaty that Assad’s government signed in 2013.
The French ambassador, Francois Delattre, said he welcomed the solidarity from Haley on the resolution.
“The Trump administration has a very clear position that is also our French position, the British position and the position of the majority of members of the Security Council,” Delattre said.