As tensions between the West and Russia are on the rise due to the ongoing Ukraine war, Russia vetoed a US-sponsored resolution that would have extended the work of inspectors seeking to determine who is responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia tried unsuccessfully to postpone the vote until next month after the joint body, comprising investigators from the UN and the chemical weapons watchdog, issued a report on October 26 about the April 4 chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun that killed over 90 people.
The resolution was then put to a vote and received 11 “yes” votes, 2 “no” votes from Russia and Bolivia, and two abstentions by China and Kazakhstan.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley, who is currently in Africa, pressed for a vote before the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) report.
She said last week that Russia wanted first to see if the report blames Syria for the Khan Sheikhoun attack, in which case it would have no faith in the JIM. She called this position unacceptable.
“We can’t work like that,” Haley told reporters. “We can’t go and pick and choose who we want to be at fault, who we don’t.”
Nebenzia repeated and sharply criticized Haley’s comments, telling the council Tuesday that “we never, ever, ever put it in such a way.”
Russia, a close ally of the Bashar al-Assad regime, has repeatedly accused the United States and its Western allies of rushing to judgment and blaming the Syrian regime for sarin use in Khan Sheikhoun.
Haley said in a statement after the vote that “Russia has once again demonstrated it will do whatever it takes to ensure the barbaric Assad regime never faces consequences for its continued use of chemicals as weapons.”
“This is the ninth time Russia has protected al-Assad and his team of murderers by blocking the Security Council from acting,” she said.