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Russia Casts Veto Again

The Security Council met to discuss the alleged use of chemical weapons in an airstrike on 4 April in the Khan Shaykhun area of southern Idlib, Syria. Nikki Haley (centre), United States Permanent Representative to the UN and President of the Security Council for April, addresses the meeting.05 April 2017 (UN photo by Rick Bajornas)

The Security Council met to discuss the alleged use of chemical weapons in an airstrike on 4 April in the Khan Shaykhun area of southern Idlib, Syria. Nikki Haley (centre), United States Permanent Representative to the UN and President of the Security Council for April, addresses the meeting.05 April 2017 (UN photo by Rick Bajornas)

(WEBPUBLICAPRESS) UNITED NATIONS – NEW YOK – Again – Russia vetoed a UN Security Council draft text on April 10 that would have established a new expert body to determine culpability for a suspected chemical attack in Syria, news agencies reported. China has abstained this time.

The U.S. draft had the overwhelming support of the council with 12 members of the 15-member council voting in favor, and only two — Russia and Bolivia — voting against.

Nikki Haley, the U.S.’ UN envoy, ripped Moscow shortly after the vote concluded, saying it had “trashed the credibility of the council.”

“The votes have been cast. The record will show that today some countries decided to stand up for truth,” Haley said.

“The record will not be kind to one permanent member of this council.”

An alleged chemical attack outside of Damascus on the night of April 7 killed dozens of people and injured hundreds of others.

The White Helmets, a civil defense agency, blamed the Assad regime for the attack in Eastern Ghouta’s Douma, which it said killed 78 civilians and injured hundreds of others.

Tuesday’s veto is Russia’s twelfth of council resolutions seeking to hold the Assad regime accountable for rights violations. Six of those resolutions would have condemned the regime for chemical weapons attacks.

Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, accused the U.S. of “trying to mislead the international community”.

The U.S. and its allies in the international arena have already determined the guilty party, Nebenzia said, claiming they “were simply looking for a pretext” to take action against Bashar al-Assad.

What will US do    

Following the vote on the U.S.-drafted resolution, a Russian-drafted text failed to get the needed votes to pass the council. Unlike the U.S. measure, the Russian text would not have sought to assign blame for the attack, but would have rather simply sought to determine if a chemical attack took place. In all, seven members voted against the Russian draft, with six voting in favor.

A third vote on a separate Russian resolution also failed to pass the council after six members abstained and four voted in opposition. The draft resolution would have endorsed an ongoing probe being conducted by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), but would have done nothing else.

The OPCW probe is mandated to determine whether an attack took place, but not to assign blame if it determines one was carried out.

Voting for the resolution “would be like watching a fire and identifying that there is a fire,” said Karen Pierce, Britain’s UN envoy.

Pierce earlier accused Russia of abusing “the power of veto to protect Syria”.

“Russia would rather cross the WMD line than risk sanction of” the Assad regime, she said, referring to weapons of mass destruction.

The flurry of diplomatic activity at the United Nations on April 10 comes as U.S. President Donald Trump weighs military action against the Assad regime. He vowed Monday to take action within two days, saying the public would “probably” be made aware of any retaliation “after the fact.”

Trump vowed anyone responsible for the attack, including Russia, will “pay a price,” and has cancelled a planned trip to Latin America to oversee the U.S. response, same news source reported.

“If it’s the Russians, if it’s Syria, if it’s Iran, if it’s all of them together, we’ll figure it out.”

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