Churkin said the Western approach is designed to “fan the flames” of violence in Syria, with the United States and other powers pursuing their own “geopolitical” ambitions in the region and paving the way for a military push to remove Assad from power. He said Russia “simply cannot accept” a resolution threatening sanctions and foreign military involvement.
Syria’s U.N. envoy, Bashar al-Jaafari, also accused Western powers of using the resolution to lay the ground for a military intervention in Syria.
Russia and China again vetoed a Western-backed U.N. resolution Thursday aimed at pressuring President Bashar Assad's government to end the escalating 16-month conflict in Syria.
Rice and other Western diplomats denied categorically that the resolution would set the stage for outside military intervention.
The resolution was based on Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which has been traditionally used to authorize the use of sanctions and military force. But the resolution included no explicit reference to the use of force, and threatened measures only under Article 41 of the enforcement provision, which deals only with sanctions.
Russia and China “argued that a Chapter 7 resolution was somehow designed to seek military action through the back door,” said Britain’s U.N. envoy, Mark Lyall Grant, who led the negotiations on behalf of the West. “These arguments are irrational.”
The veto followed visits by Annan and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to Moscow and Beijing, where they sought to urge Russian and Chinese leaders to take a tougher stance on Syria. For weeks, Annan has been promoting a new diplomatic strategy aimed at prodding the Syrian government and the armed opposition to enter talks on the establishment of a government of national unity. Annan argued that those who failed to comply with the political strategy should face unspecified consequences.
The United States, Britain, France and other allies fashioned a resolution that would reconfigure the U.N. mission in Syria to support Annan’s push for political talks and threatened to impose sanctions against the Syrian government within 10 days if it failed to halt its shelling of residential centers and remove its heavy weapons from urban areas.
The resolution included no similar threat of sanctions against the armed opposition, which has demonstrated an increasingly robust capacity to strike at military targets.
In explaining their decision to abstain, South Africa and Pakistan argued that the sponsors had not made a serious enough effort to offer concession to the Russians and Chinese to maintain council unity.
Babak Dehghanpisheh in Beirut contributed to this report.