Russian Deputy Ambassador to the UN Vladimir Safronkov speaks after he voted against a Security Council draft resolution that condemned the suspected use of chemical weapons in Syria, New York, April 12, 2017.

Russia vetoes Security Council resolution on Syria chemical attack

Russia has vetoed a UN Security Council resolution sponsored by the UK, France, and the US condemning the Syrian government for a suspected chemical weapons attack in the Arab country.

On Wednesday, Russia blocked the draft resolution that condemned the alleged chemical attack in the Syrian province of Idlib, and urging the Syrian government to cooperate with a probe into the incident.

In response to the alleged attack, US warships deployed to the eastern Mediterranean launched a barrage of 59 Tomahawk missiles against Shayrat Airfield, southeast of the western Syrian city of Homs on Friday.

“The main objection to the resolution is that it apportioned blame prior to an objective outside investigation of the incident… The outcome of the vote was predestined, because we disagreed categorically with a document that was fundamentally misconceived,” said Russia’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN Vladimir Safronkov.

He went on to say that accepting the resolution would have also legitimized the US airstrike on the Syrian airbase from where the US claims jets took off for the chemical attack.

“What was being ignored and brushed aside under artificial pretext was Russia’s concerns and priorities. The main problem was that the draft resolution by the troika appointed the guilty party prior to an independent and objective investigation. This is an approach that is incompatible with legal norms,”  he added.

During the debate before the vote, Safronkov stressed that Western countries were wrong to blame Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the gas attack.

“I’m amazed that this was the conclusion. No one has yet visited the site of the crime. How do you know that?” he said.

Ten countries voted in favor of the draft, Bolivia joined Russia in voting no, while China, Ethiopia, and Kazakhstan abstained.

“With its veto, Russia said ‘no’ to accountability, Russia said ‘no’ to cooperation with the UN’s independent investigation and Russia said ‘no’ to a resolution that would have helped to promote peace in Syria,” said US Ambassador Nikki Haley, adding that Russia “has a lot to prove.”