'The message to anyone listening is clear: in effect, Russia accepts the use of chemical weapons in Syria,' US envoy says
Russia cast its tenth veto of a UN Security Council resolution concerning the Syrian conflict Thursday, blocking the extension of a UN inquiry into responsibility for chemical attacks in the country.
The UN mechanism determined in late October that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were at fault for an April 4 chemical weapons attack in northwestern Syria. Its mandate is set to expire Friday.
The U.S. draft text needed nine votes in favor to pass, and received 11. But it also required none of the five permanent members of the council to issue a veto, which Russia did.
Russia's UN ambassador, Vasily Nebenzya, slammed the text, calling it unbalanced and unrealistic.
Russia has been Assad's principal backer in the world body, and has supported him militarily in Syria with an extensive air campaign and ground forces.
"By eliminating our ability to identify the attackers, Russia has undermined our ability to deter future attacks," Nikki Haley, the U.S.'s UN envoy said in a terse statement. "The message to anyone listening is clear: in effect, Russia accepts the use of chemical weapons in Syria.”
Dozens of people died in the early April sarin gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun, and repeated accusations of chemical weapons use date back to 2013.
Russia withdrew its own draft resolution after it failed to circumvent council rules to have it considered before the U.S. version. After the vote on the U.S. text Bolivia, a Russian ally, sought a vote on Moscow's proposal. It failed with only four votes in favor.
Resolutions need nine votes to get through the council.
Later, Japan circulated its own draft resolution asking for the investigative panel to be extended for one month, but it is unclear when that vote will take place.