On Wednesday morning, hours before a crucial vote that, according to Fox News, “would condemn the reported use of chemical weapons in northern Syria and demand that all parties provide speedy access for investigators,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley continued to hammer Russia:
“Last week, Bashar al-Assad once again terrorized his own people with one of the world’s most horrific weapons. Assad’s murderous attack shook every one of us to our core. It once again showed the world that Assad is not a partner for peace. It showed what happens when Assad’s allies – Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah – decide to lend their support to a barbaric regime instead of joining the world to stop it.
When Assad’s planes dropped chemical weapons, his regime violated a resolution from this very council, and the chemical weapons convention. Assad mocked every assurance the Russians gave us that there were no chemical weapons in Syria. The United States was compelled to act. We will not allow the use of chemical weapons to go unanswered; we are not going to look the other way; we are watching the regime’s actions carefully.
To my colleagues from Russia: you are isolating yourselves from the international community every time one of Assad’s plans drop[s] another barrel bomb on civilians, and every time Assad tries to starve another community to death.
People, not just in the west, but across the Middle East and the world, are speaking out against Assad’s brutality. 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.
The road to peace is long; we won’t get a political solution overnight, but we can start by working together to actually de-escalate the conflict. For Russia, getting serious about peace starts by fulfilling its commitment to get chemical weapons out of Syria. We urge Russia to use its influence to make Assad actually live up to his international obligations. That means giving investigators, who are already mandated through existing mechanisms, full access to the bases where the regime launched its chemical weapons attacks, and access to anyone who might have been involved.
Russia talks about its commitment to a political solution; they must commit to the Geneva talks. Now is the time Russia needs to show the world whether they genuinely want to be a part of the political process. We need to see a real ceasefire on the ground. We need to see a credible political process through which Syrians can chart their future. We need to see Russia choose to side with the civilized world over an Assad government that brutally terrorizes its own people.
The United States is ready to do our part. Russia, too, needs to do its part…”
At 3 p.m. on Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council convened in order to vote on the resolution. The Russian Federation voted “No,” therefore vetoing the resolution.
Following the veto, multiple ambassadors condemned the move by the Russian Federation, including the ambassadors for the United Kingdom, France, and Ukraine. Russia defended the veto, claiming the resolution drafted by the United States, France, and the United Kingdom was biased, and brimming with assumptions.
Speaking last, Haley stated in part:
“[This resolution] was a step to hold the perpetrators of this chemical attack accountable, and I thank those members who supported this effort. But with its veto, Russia said ‘no’ to accountability; Russia said ‘no’ to cooperation with the U.N.’s independent investigation; and Russia said no to a resolution that would have helped promote peace in Syria.
Russia once again has chosen to side with Assad, even as the rest of the world – including the Arab world – overwhelmingly comes together to condemn this murderous regime.
Russia said this resolution was biased, and that the Assad regime was not involved. This resolution simply emphasized the information the regime is already required to provide to investigators. The U.N. Joint Investigative Mechanism and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have told us many times that Assad will not provide access to investigate. We need to continue to support their role [in] further investigating what happened on April 4th. If the regime is innocent, as Russia claims, the information requested in this resolution would have vindicated them.
Unfortunately, this was Russia’s eighth veto on the Syrian resolution. The United States takes no pleasure in seeing Russia isolated again on the Security Council…
Today’s vote could have been a turning point. Once more, this vote could have been the moment when Russia saw that its interests do not lie with the murderous dictator, but rather with many countries in the international community – including those across the Middle East – that want to end this conflict. By its failure, Russia will continue to be isolated. We urge Russia to join forces with the overwhelming number of countries that are pushing for a political solution. The international community has spoken. Russia now has a lot to prove.”
No one expected Russia to cooperate, and with this vote, they were once again revealed.