The Associated PressUNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council overwhelmingly rejected a Russian resolution calling for condemnation of “aggression” by the United States, Britain and France against Syria on Saturday, a vote reflecting support for the allied airstrikes on Syrian chemical sites.
But the vote at the end of an emergency meeting called by Russia also demonstrated again the paralysis of the U.N.’s most powerful body in dealing with Syria’s seven-year conflict.
Russia’s demand for condemnation and an immediate halt to “aggression” and “any further use of force” by the three Western allies got support from only two other countries on the 15-member Security Council — China and Bolivia.
By contrast, eight countries voted against the Russian draft — the United States, Britain, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Kuwait, Poland and Cote d’Ivoire. Four countries abstained — Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Equatorial Guinea and Peru.
At the meeting, the fifth in a week on chemical weapons in Syria, Russia and its supporters again clashed with the United States and its allies over a suspected poison gas attack on April 7 in the Damascus suburb of Douma.
The United States, Britain and France said they launched airstrikes against Syrian chemical sites after obtaining evidence that a chemical weapon was used by President Bashar Assad’s government. Russia and its ally Syria called the attack fabricated and said no evidence of chemical weapons use exists in Douma.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council “there is clear information demonstrating Assad’s culpability.”
And she said U.S. President Donald Trump told her Saturday morning that if the Syrian regime uses poisonous gas again “the United States is locked and loaded” to strike again.
“When our president draws a red line, our president enforces the red line,” Haley stressed. “The United States of America will not allow the Assad regime to continue using chemical weapons.”
France’s U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre said the result of the vote sends “a clear message” that Security Council members recognized the need for the airstrikes, and “their proportional and targeted nature.”
“And what’s most important is no one contests that the use of chemical weapons cannot be tolerated and must be deterred,” he said. “That is essential.”
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the meeting confirmed that the United States and its allies “continue to put international politics and diplomacy in the realm of myth-making — myths invented in London, Paris and Washington.”
“We put facts contrary to your myths,” he said. “If we continue on this path, we will soon reach the diplomacy of the absurd.”
Russia and Syria also clashed with the three Western allies over the legality of the airstrikes and responsibility for the Security Council’s paralysis.
Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Karen Pierce blamed Russia for repeatedly vetoing resolutions on the use of chemical weapons in Syria and said Britain took military action “to save lives,” on the legal basis of “humanitarian intervention.”