Russia, China veto western-backed Syria resolution at UN Security Council

Russia and China have vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that threatened Syria with more sanctions.

­It was the third time in nine months that Russia and China used their powers as permanent members of the 15-nation council to block resolutions on Syria. There were 11 votes in favor of the resolution. Russia and China voted against it, while South Africa and Pakistan abstained from voting.

Addressing the council, Russian Representative to the UN Vitaly Churkin accused the Western members of the UNSC of attempting to "fan the flames of confrontation in the Security Council."

"The draft resolution which was voted on was biased. The threat of sanctions was leveled exclusively at the government of Syria, and does not reflect the realities in the country today. It's especially ambiguous in light of what happened with the grave terrorist attack that took place in Damascus", Churkin added.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who drafted the resolution, earlier said the worsening crisis confirmed "the urgent need for a Chapter 7 resolution of the UN Security Council on Syria."

Chapter 7 allows the 15-member council to authorize actions ranging from diplomatic and economic sanctions to military intervention. US officials have said they are talking about sanctions on Syria, not military intervention, but Russia and China strongly believe allowing such a resolution to pass could create a repeat of the so-called 'Libya scenario.'

A Russia-backed resolution was scheduled to be presented to the UNSC as well, but Churkin said the draft will not be put to a vote, after some members of the Council refused to even discuss it. 

"We believe that continued confrontation in the Security Council to be useless and counterproductive, and for this reason we will not submit our draft to a vote", Chukin said.

Instead, the Russian representative proposed a brief depoliticized resolution on a technical extension for the UN observer mission, whose mandate expires on Friday. 

Meanwhile, the US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice has slammed Russia and China for vetoing the resolution.

"UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is not to blame for the unstoppable violence in Syria, and neither is Kofi Annan. The blame lies with the Assad regime and those countries that to this day refuses to take action against it," Rice said. 

The US has also refused to vote for a resolution that would prolong the UN observer mission in Syria, which is expected to be presented in the Security Council later on Thursday.