Russian Federation vetoes United Nations bid to set up Syria chemical weapons probe

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia speaks during the United Nations Security Council meeting on threats to international peace and security and the situation in the Middle East

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia speaks during the United Nations Security Council meeting on threats to international peace and security and the situation in the Middle East

The friction filled draft resolutions proposed by the Russian Federation and USA to set up an expert body to probe chemical weapons attacks in Syria have failed to pass at the United Nations Security Council.

Moscow and Washington halted attempts by each other in the UN Security Council to set up worldwide investigations into chemical weapons attacks in Syria, which is in the throes of a seven-year-old civil war.

Russian Federation has used its veto power time and again to block action against the government of Syrian President Bashar Al Asad and this was its 12th time to use veto power for such goal.

Before the vote, Russian ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia accused the USA of pushing for a vote as a pretext for possible use of force against Syria.

USA ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said before the vote that her delegation had tried hard to incorporate Russian proposals in the draft that would not compromise the impartiality of investigation.

The vote was 12 in favor, with Bolivia joining Russian Federation in voting "no" and China abstaining.

After vetoing the USA resolution, Russia's Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia said it would have recreated the joint investigative mechanism that lapsed in November 2017, because of a Moscow veto and a similar new body would take a long time to become active.

"History will record that, on this day, Russian Federation chose protecting a monster over the lives of the Syrian people", Haley said, referring to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The meeting came says after reports of a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburb of Douma. Bolivia voted against the draft resolution, while China abstained.

A second defeated Moscow-drafted resolution would have offered backing for the fact-finding mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to Syria, but would not identify the perpetrators of attacks. She said her delegation had conducted transparent negotiations when drafting the resolution and had gone the extra mile in incorporating the views of the Russian Federation. A US Navy guided-missile destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, is in the Mediterranean.

US President Donald Trump has cancelled a trip to the Summit of the Americas in Peru's Lima, citing the Syrian developments and on Tuesday conferred with National Security Adviser John Bolton and defence officials.

The OPCW said it would "shortly" deploy a fact-finding team to Douma for an investigation, but United States officials said they were working from their own information and would not necessarily hold back.

Russian Federation has repeatedly warned at the council that Western military action in Syria would be illegal and could lead to a wider conflict.

In the meantime, the worldwide chemical weapons watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said it will send a fact-finding mission to Douma to investigate the reported attack.

That panel had found that the Syrian regime had dropped sarin on the village of Khan Sheikhun in April of past year.

The norms against chemical weapons must be upheld.

"The use of chemical weapons, once allowed to spread, is a threat to everybody and if that takes hold and becomes a routine part of fighting, then we are all at risk", said Security Council diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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