Russia has used its veto power in the United Nations Security Council to block a US-drafted resolution that sought to renew a "flawed" international inquiry into chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
While 11 members of the Security Council voted on Thursday to extend the mandate for a UN-led Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), which was due to expire by midnight, Russia and Bolivia voted against the initiative.
Russian UN envoy Vasily Nebenzya said prior to the voting that Russia supported the idea but the resolution had to first address the “systemic flaws” affecting the work of the current investigative mission.
"The UK ambassador said Russia has no place in the political process in Syria. Here it is. That is the real aim of this dirty plot — to cast doubt on Russia’s role in the Syrian political settlement," Nebenzya told the UN Security Council on Thursday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had indicated in the past that Moscow would “strongly oppose” any attempts to accuse the Syrian government of having a role in chemical weapons attacks in the Arab country.
On April 4, dozens of people were killed in a chemical attack in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun in the northwestern province of Idlib. The US and its allies were quick to accuse Syrian government forces of carrying out the attack.
This is while the Syrian government handed over its entire chemical stockpile under a deal negotiated by Russia and the US back in 2013. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) oversaw the operation.
Before the vote, Russia withdrew its own draft resolution, which agreed with an extension of the JIM but called on the panel to re-evaluate its earlier findings. The initiative came back for a vote a short while later but failed to gain enough votes, according to Reuters.
US President Donald Trump had urged the UNSC to support the JIM’s continued work.
US, France criticize Russia
The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, blasted Moscow’s opposition to the US draft, saying it indicated that Russia had no problem with the use of chemical weapons in Syria’s six-year conflict.
France also slammed the move, saying it increased chances of the further use of chemical weapons in Syria. Sweden also called the veto "highly regrettable."
Besides Russia, the US, China, France, and the UK have veto rights at the UNSC.