The U.N. has faced conflicting resolutions posed by different Security Council members to address the rapidly worsening crisis in eastern Aleppo.
Russia and France recently submitted opposing resolutions to address the ongoing war in Syria, which has seen a major bombing campaign since a U.S. and Russia-imposed ceasefire failed in September. Both resolutions were defeated, further distancing some of the most decisive external actors in the conflict.
A France-drafted and U.S.-backed resolution was submitted demanding an immediate halt to the bombing campaign that the Assad government and Russia are conducting against rebel-held districts in Aleppo. It would also have permitted the free flow of humanitarian aid in the city. The resolution received 11 “yes” votes from the 15-member council, but was vetoed by Russia and Venezuela. French President François Hollande had urged Russia not to veto the resolution.
“A country that vetoes this resolution would be discredited in the eyes of the world. It would be responsible for continuing abuses,” said Mr. Hollande.
The rival Russian proposal, which sought to separate extremist from moderate factions in the conflict did not mention an end to the bombing campaign, did not get the minimum nine “yes” votes and thus did not pass.
After the council rejected the Russian draft, Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft addressed Churkin directly saying: “A lonely veto and then just four votes in favor of your text — a double humiliation.”
“This text was a cynical attempt to divert attention from your veto today that once again denied any hope to the people of Aleppo,” said Matthew Rycroft, British ambassador to the U.N., addressing Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churn.
“It’s a sham, just as Russia’s hollow commitment to a political process in Syria is a sham.”
Mr. Churkin, the current rotating council president, called the guaranteed failure of the opposing resolutions “one of the strangest spectacles” the Security Council has seen, calling it a “waste of time” and “inadmissible”.
It is the fifth time Russia has vetoed a U.N.-backed resolution to end the bombing campaign in Syria in what has become a pattern of non-starter attempts to end a seemingly intractable conflict.
An agreed ceasefire was imposed in September before falling apart after Syrian government targets were bombed by the U.S. in what was described as an “accident”. The retaliatory Russian-backed airstrikes over the eastern part of the city have since caused thousands of deaths and injuries, and Russia may be put under a U.N. investigation for war crimes due to its repeated bombing of hospitals and other sensitive civilian targets.
Attempts to patch up deteriorating U.S.-Russia talks on Syria came to an official end last week when the U.S. announced that it was withdrawing from talks, citing a lack of seriousness on Russia’s part.
The two countries’ relationship has since grown increasingly acrimonious, with mutual condemnations being issued regularly. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday that he detected increasing U.S. hostility towards Moscow and complained about what he described as a series of aggressive U.S. actions that threaten Russia’s national security.
In an interview with Russian state TV, Lavrov blamed the Obama administration for what the recent deterioration in U.S.-Russia ties.
“We have witnessed a fundamental change of circumstances when it comes to the aggressive Russophobia that now lies at the heart of U.S. policy towards Russia,” Mr. Lavrov told Russia’s state-run First Channel.
“It’s not just a rhetorical Russophobia, but aggressive steps that really hurt our national interests and pose a threat to our security.”
The conflict over Syria has exacerbated preexisting tension between the U.S. and Russia, a rift driven by anxieties over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Russian fears of NATO encroachment in Eastern Europe.
With the world showing heightened levels of concern for the Syrian Civil War, the damaged rapport between Moscow and Washington has hindered the peace process during a particularly significant time.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon has said that Aleppo, in which 2 million Syrians may be trapped, is “worse than a slaughterhouse”, and the UN says two million Syrians could be trapped in the city.
More than 400 civilians, roughly a third of them children, have been killed during the past two weeks of bombings.