Russia and China used their veto powers to block a UN Security Council draft resolution to impose sanctions on Syria over the government’s alleged chemical weapons use, Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Nations and acting Security Council president Volodymyr Yelchenko said on Tuesday.
“The result of this vote is as follows: 9 votes in favor, 3 against and 3 abstentions. The draft resolution has not been adopted owing to the negative vote of the [permanent] members of the Council,” Yelchenko stated.
Bolivia also voted against the draft resolution while Kazakhstan, Egypt, and Ethiopia abstained.
Earlier on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said sanctions against Syria would hinder ongoing peace negotiations and warned that Moscow would not support new UN Security Council measures against the Syrian government.
The draft resolution, co-sponsored by France, the United Kingdom and the United States, suggested imposing sanctions against 10 entities and 11 Syrians considered responsible for using chemical weapons in Syria in 2014 and 2015.
The vote comes amid ongoing intra-Syrian talks in Geneva that brought together representatives of Syrian government and opposition groups.
Despite lack of conclusive evidence, a number of countries, in particular the United Kingdom, France, and the United States, blamed the Syrian government for the chemical attacks. Syrian President Bashar Assad though denied all accusations, claiming the reports failed to provide conclusive evidence of its culpability and putting blame on the terrorist groups. The Russian authorities have repeatedly called on necessity to double-check such kind of reports, stressing that conclusions cannot be simply made on interviews of several local residents.
In late October-early November 2016, a number of chemical attacks were conducted in Syria’s city of Aleppo by militants, killing dozens of Syrian servicemen and civilians. The Syrian government urged the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to conduct the investigation, while the Russian Defense Ministry handed the results of the chemical use probe to Syria’s national regulator in charge of implementing the OPCW convention.
Earlier on February, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it expected more effective work from the OPCW, adding that the organization’s act-finding mission in Syria had conducted its activity over the past years remotely by interviewing witnesses, which raised questions over information’s credibility.
Syria’s civil war between government forces and a wide range of insurgents, including opposition groups and terrorists, such as al-Nusra Front and Daesh, both outlawed in Russia, has raged for some five years and has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. Aleppo, fought over since 2012, was liberated and fully retaken by the government in late December.