The Russian Federation vetoed Wednesday a United Nations National Security Council resolution that would have condemned Syria for the chemical attack on civilians and called for an investigation into the matter. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley berated Russia for the move.
She began by recounting the story of one family that suffered 22 of its members being killed in the chemical attack. “No one anyone in the world should have to face that kind of suffering,” she said. “That is why the United States, the United Kingdom and France put forward this resolution. It was a step to hold the perpetrators of this chemical attack accountable, and I think those members who supported this effort.
“But with its veto Russia said no to accountability,” Haley continued. “Russia said no to cooperation with the UN’s independent investigation and Russia said no to a resolution that would have helped promote peace in Syria.”
“Russia once again has chosen to side with Assad,” she scolded, “even as the rest of the world, including the Arab world overwhelmingly comes together to condemn this murderous regime. Russia said this resolution was biased and the Assad regime was not involved. This resolution simply emphasized the information the regime is already required to provide to investigators.”
“The U.N. Joint Investigative Mechanism and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have told us many times that Assad will not provide access to investigate,” Haley explained. “We need to continue to support their role in further investigating what happened on April 4th. If the regime is innocent as Russia claims, the information requested in this resolution would have vindicated them.”
“Unfortunately,” she added, “this was Russia’s eighth veto on the Syrian resolution. The United States takes no pleasure in seeing Russia isolated again on the security council.”
At the end of the speech, she addressed Assad and the Syrian government directly, saying, “You have no friends in the world after your horrible actions.”
“The United States is watching your actions very closely,” she warned. “The days of your arrogance and disregard of humanity are over. Your excuses will no longer be heard.”
“I suggest you look at this vote very carefully and heed this warning,” Haley concluded.
Matthew Rycroft, the United Kingdom Ambassador to the United Nations, had a similar admonishment to the Russians for their support of Assad.
“We recognized the need for a thorough swift, independent investigation,” Rycroft explained, “Russia’s foreign minister has this afternoon also called for such an investigation. Yet Russia has vetoed a resolution that would support that investigation. Their messages are mixed, their aims, confused.”
“We’ve once again encountered a Russian veto,” he continued. “The eighth time that Russia has used it’s veto to protect the Syrian regime. This one is even more regrettable given that Russia was the architect of the 2013 agreement to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons program.”
“An initiative that has demonstrably failed,” he added. “Russia cannot now possibly claim that it opposed the use of chemical weapons. Russia has seen the same pictures that we all saw just days ago in this same chamber.”
“How could anyone look at the faces of lifeless children and choose to veto a resolution condemning those deaths?” Rycroft asked, hearkening back to the reasoning that President Trump gave for the missile strike on Syria.
The Trump administration has said unequivocally that they believe Assad is to blame for the chemical attack, while he and his Russian allies deny the claim.