Russia, China veto ‘counterproductive’ UNSC resolution on Aleppo ceasefire

Russia and China have vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on an immediate seven-day ceasefire in the Syrian city of Aleppo. The Russian Foreign Minister described the draft resolution as counterproductive to a practical outcome.

Venezuela also voted against the resolution while Angola abstained. The remaining 11 members of the UNSC, voted in favor of the document. The draft resolution, submitted by Egypt, Spain and New Zealand, proposed an initial ceasefire period of seven days, to allow for the delivery of humanitarian cargo and to pave the way for the resumption of settlement talks.

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Russia, which warned its colleagues in advance that it would veto the text, was criticized by the US-led block. The Russian envoy said that the UNSC should not undermine efforts made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his counterpart John Kerry, who agreed on a settlement plan for Aleppo in Rome on December 2. The plan includes the withdrawal of militants from the eastern part of the city.

“US Secretary of State, Mr. Kerry is working with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Mr. Lavrov to reach a tangible outcome. But when they are close to an agreement, someone topples it,” Churkin said, after a speech by the US delegate.

Churkin said that Russia-US negotiations are the only way to bring peace to Aleppo.

“Russia is trying to achieve a solution including by the Security Council which would have a chance for success. The initiative which Lavrov and Kerry discussed two days ago has a chance to succeed because it would lead to an effective end to the Aleppo tragedy, which has lasted for several years,” Churkin said.

“That is a made-up alibi,” US deputy ambassador Michele Sison told the council. “We have not reached a breakthrough because Russia has been more focused on preserving its military gains than helping Aleppo's citizens.”

“We will not let Russia string along this Security Council while waiting for a compromise from the Russians that never seems to come,” she added.

The US position was supported by UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, who said, “[Russia and China] have chosen to veto not because of a lack of consultation, but because of their long-standing, misplaced faith in a despot who has killed nearly half a million of his own people.”

Taking the floor, Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi said Rycroft was “poisoning” the atmosphere and “abusing” the forum with his remarks.

“I would like to ask the representative of the UK, what right does he have to distort positions of other countries? The Security Council is a solemn forum. it is not a place where groundless attacks can be made on other countries positions,” Liu said.

“I would like the UK representative to put an end to such practice of poisoning the atmosphere of the security council and abusing the solemn forum of the council. This is not the first time that he did this and I hope that such abuse will not repeat in the future,” the Chinese envoy said.

Lavrov: Kerry finally presented proposals on Aleppo in line with Russia’s stance

Before the vote, Russia’s UN envoy said that the country would vote against the document, informing UNSC members of Moscow’s decision.

Churkin said that Egypt, New Zealand and Spain “were shamelessly pressured by the trio of permanent western members,” which insisted on the draft being put to a vote as soon as possible.

Moscow regards such actions are “provocative.” They undermine the “peace efforts of the co-chairs of the Syria Support Group [Russia and the US],” he added.

Moscow and Damascus have long maintained that humanitarian pauses have been used by fighters to resupply ammunition and to strengthen their positions which only worsens the suffering of civilians.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the resolution ran counter to a solution that the US and Russia are trying to agree on for Aleppo.

“Taking into consideration the outcome of the previous pauses [in the conflict], there is absolutely no doubt that the 10-day ceasefire, which backers of the draft resolution generously want to provide the militants with, would surely be used for regrouping and rearming the extremists and would slow down the liberation of eastern Aleppo from them,” Lavrov said.

Prior to the UN vote, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Russian and US experts should soon start work aimed at “complete the withdrawal of all militants from the eastern part of the city.”

“The sides will also have to coordinate the routes and time for the complete withdrawal of all militants. Once this is done a ceasefire will be announced with a view to their evacuation,” the ministry said in a statement.