MOSCOW – As the mainstream media pounds Moscow for “vetoing aid for Syria”, Russia’s UN mission announced there was no winner in the latest UN battle during which its own draft resolution was defeated by “bias and double standards”.
The Russian mission to the UN has offered their take on two rival resolutions on Syria which the Security Council rejected during a contentious Friday vote, RT reported. One, drafted by Belgium, Germany, and Kuwait, sought to extend the shipping of aid into Syria through three checkpoints – two in Turkey and one in Iraq – for the next year. But the scheme, adopted five years ago without Damascus’ consent, became irrelevant by 2019, the Russian delegation argued.
Delivering aid from Turkey and Iraq was justifiable, although legally questionable, back then because many Syrians civilians lived in hard-to-reach areas controlled by terrorists, Vassily Nebenzia, the Russian ambassador to the UN, explained later. Now, Damascus is robust enough to distribute supplies on their own – and bypassing government checkpoints would be a sign of disrespect for the country’s sovereignty as “we live in 2019, not in 2014”.
The Russian mission warned the co-authors that their motion was doomed to fail, but it was still put to a vote. Russia and China – two permanent Security Council members – were left with no choice but to veto it. Likewise, the second resolution to fail was a Russian-sponsored draft that suggested limiting the extension to six months and the number of checkpoints to two that are actually working.
It received five votes in favor from China, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Russia, and South Africa, but the US, UK, France, Poland, Peru, and the Dominican Republic voted against; Germany, Belgium, Kuwait, and Indonesia abstained. Russia was in fact ready to greenlight the extension if it proved workable within those six months, but “double standards and political bias of our Western partners ruined both draft resolutions”, Nebenzia said.
“We offered a simple and clear solution, and played fair – we said at the very beginning why the current scheme of delivering cross-border assistance should be changed,” Nebenzia stated.
“Of course, today there are no winners, there are only losers. These are ordinary Syrian citizens who risk being left without aid in the future,” he added.
Shortly after the vote, the international media rushed to decry the Russian veto that ostensibly denied millions of Syrians access to humanitarian aid. There was also no shortage of quotes from Western envoys denouncing the “cynical” and “irresponsible” move. By contrast, only a few outlets quoted Nebenzia, who called the resolution “obsolete”. For Russian diplomats, the outcome is not surprising.
“By tradition, the blame was pinned to us,” Nebenzia noted, stating, “However, I said at the meeting that it would be interesting to see how they’re going to explain to the media why they cut [the motion] down with their own hands.”