China, Russia veto UN resolution on Syria

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – China and Russia used their vetoes in the UN Security Council late Tuesday to stop a United Nations draft resolution that threatened sanctions against Syria. It would have been the first such UN decision since March, when President Bashar Assad’s military regime began using tanks and soldiers to crack down on protester. US Ambassador Susan Rice walked out after the vote and remarks against the US by Syria.

The double veto 4 October was the first by the two countries since 2008, when they opposed sanctions against Zimbabwe and it came after several attempts to renegotiate the draft text failed.

The vote was 9-2, with four countries abstaining: India, South Africa, Brazil and Lebanon.

NPR in the US reports that “Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the council after the vote that his country did not support the Assad regime or the violence but opposed the resolution because it was “based on a philosophy of confrontation,” contained “an ultimatum of sanctions” and was against a peaceful settlement of a crisis. He also complained that the resolution did not call for the Syrian opposition to disassociate itself from ‘extremists’ and enter into dialogue.

Ria Novosti reports that Russia “stands firmly against any mention of sanctions citing the example of Libya where the Nato countries largely overstepped the UN mandate in a military operation against Muammar Qaddafi’s regime, said the text of the document was ‘unacceptable’ despite several changes to the draft. The Russian news agency cites Churkin’s complaint that “the document did not contain provisions on the unacceptability of an external military intervention.”

China’s Ambassador Li Bandong says that China is concerned about the violence but that sanctions achieve little and can complicate the situation rather than help it.

Links to other sites: BBC, The Globe & Mail, NPR, Ria Novosti, Xinhua