Russia vetoed a UN resolution Wednesday that would have required Syria to cooperate with investigators and face full accountability after a brutal chemical attack in that country.
It’s the eighth time Russia has vetoed a proposed Security Council resolution on Syria.
The resolution, crafted by the United States, United Kingdom and France, was circulated to the 15 member countries of the Security Council on Tuesday.
Western ambassadors blasted Russia earlier Wednesday for continuing to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after his alleged use of sarin on a rebel-held area of his country.
UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft accused Assad by name at a planned morning session on Syria.
“We’ve met over the horror, hoping Assad has reached his depths, and yet every time, he’s plunged to new lows,” he said. The Syrian people “have suffered six years of ever-escalating barbarity, over six years of failed ceasefires, and over the years, Russia has held us ransom for the Assad regime.”
However, the Syrian envoy to the UN Bashar Ja’afari dismissed as “lies” and “accusations” the notion that his country used “a chemical weapon we do not even possess.”
Speaking before the veto vote, Vladimir Safronkov, deputy Russian ambassador, pointed at Rycroft, saying with emotion: “Look at me when I’m speaking. Don’t look away. Why are you looking away?”
Safronkov charged that the UK and U.S. support terrorist groups seeking to remove the Assad regime.
However, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, did not let up on the criticism of Moscow.
“To my colleagues from Russia, you are isolating yourselves from the international community every time one of Assad’s planes drop another barrel bomb on civilians and every time Assad tries to starve another community to death,” she said.
As her boss Rex Tillerson, the U.S. secretary of state, was meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia, Haley told the council, “It is long past time for Russia to stop covering for Assad.
It is long past time for Russia to push seriously for peace and not continue to be part of the problem”
Ja’afari, the Syrian representative, repeated many arguments in his country’s defense that he has stated over the six years of civil war.
He said the recent chemical weapons attack was really the act of terrorists and rebels and blamed the U.S. for “deciding to repeat the same bloody, theatrical play that it had staged 14 years ago in this council against Iraq. A play entitled “the lie of the Iraqi WMDs.”
After the session, the Syrian ambassador was asked by CNN to comment on President Donald Trump’s remarks in an interview that Assad was “an animal.”
“It’s really pitiful to hear such irresponsible and provocative statements from the most important leader in the Western world,” Ja’afari said. “I feel ashamed, I feel ashamed.”