Russia vetoed at the UN Security Council the extension of cross-border aid to Syria
As a result of Russia's actions, about 4 million residents of the northwestern regions of Syria are at risk of being left without humanitarian assistance
Russia on Friday vetoed the Council's application UN Security Council on a 12-month extension of UN aid supplies from Turkey to an estimated 4 million residents of opposition-controlled northwestern Syria.
For the resolution prepared by Ireland and Norway, 13 members of the UN Security Council voted, China abstained. A resolution requires nine votes in favor and no veto from Russia, China, the US, the UK or France.
“This is a matter of life and death. And, unfortunately, people will die because of this vote and because of the state that shamelessly used the right of veto,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said at the UNSC meeting today.
< p>Following this, Russia, an ally of the Bashar al-Assad regime, put to the vote its own proposal for a UN humanitarian operation in Syria for a period of six months, as well as insisting on the provision of extensive international assistance in the reconstruction of Syria. The proposal failed: only Russia and China supported it; The US, UK and France voted against, while the other 10 members of the UNSC abstained.
“This page of history has finally been turned and cannot be turned back,” Dmitry Polyansky, Russian Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, said after the second vote, adding that Moscow will continue to provide assistance to Syria “with respect for its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The United States, the United Kingdom and France said six months is not enough time for aid groups to plan effectively.
Western powers are also opposed to financing large-scale reconstruction efforts until progress is made in resolving the political crisis in Syria, where civil war broke out after Bashar al-Assad brutally cracked down on opposition demands for democratization in 2011.
The current mandate for the United Nations relief operation for Syria from Turkey expires on Sunday. The UN Security Council is expected to continue negotiations to see if an agreement can be reached.
“We are not afraid of this veto power,” said Geraldine Byrne Nason, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the UN, speaking on behalf of Ireland and Norway.
Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun also called on all members of the council to “not give up” and continue negotiation. United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the UN Lana Nusseibeh proposed a possible nine-month extension “to ensure that the needs of millions of Syrians are met during the winter.”
The vote in the UN Security Council to authorize the Syrian relief operation is has been a contentious issue for years.
In 2014, the Security Council authorized the delivery of humanitarian aid to opposition-held areas of Syria from Iraq, Jordan and two locations in Turkey. However, Russia and China, using veto power, reduced the number of such points to one in Turkey.
Last month, UN Secretary General António Guterres asked the Security Council to approve an extension of Turkish aid supplies to northwestern Syria, saying : “We cannot disappoint the Syrian people.”