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.”
Western countries blame the Syrian government for the Khan Shaykhun incident without providing any evidence to support their accusations.
Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said Damascus did not and would not use chemical arms, even against terror outfits. He said the Syrian military had carried out an airstrike on a depot where terrorists stored chemical weapons.
Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted that the lack of an international probe into the chemical attack would show that the international community was not seeking truth with regard to the incident.
“I would like to stress that we are 100 percent sure that, if our colleagues in the UN or in The Hague will steer away from this investigation, it will basically mean that they do not want to find out the truth,” he said, adding that Russia “will insist on” launching an investigation.