Russia, China veto Syrian humanitarian truce at the U.N.

UNITED NATIONS - Russia and China used their veto power in the U.N. Security Council to block a draft resolution on Monday calling for a seven-day humanitarian truce in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo.

The inability of the U.N. Security Council to resolve the fighting in Syria and bring desperately-needed aid to children and families who are trapped in the fighting is a reflection of the Washington-Moscow divide and has undermined the credibility of the United Nations to resolve one of the world’s most enduring conflicts, CBS News’ Pamela Falk reports. 

The resolution, sponsored by New Zealand, Egypt and Spain, sought to allow for the removal of the sick and wounded and to provide humanitarian aid workers enough time to get food aid and medicine into the besieged city.

The resolution had 11 votes in favor, three against with one abstention but because Russia and China as permanent members of the 15-seat council have veto power the resolution did not pass. Venezuela, a non-permanent member, cast the other “No” vote.

The Security Council has been trying for over five years and has seen six vetoes by Russia, this time with China on board, to try to end the fighting and allow aid convoys to enter the area, where Syrian military gains have seen more swaths of Aleppo taken. 

Russia called for more time to allow the experts to discuss the agreement that was made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Falk said.

New Zealand’s Ambassador Gerard van Bohemen said, “The Council’s failure to act is deeply damaging to the Council’s reputation and catastrophic for the people of Syria.”

Before the vote, representatives from Russia and the U.S. traded barbs over who was responsible for the resolution’s failure.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin complained that the vote violated the Security Council’s working procedures because the draft hadn’t been given the traditional 24 hours for it to be under review. He also complained that it did not take into account an agreement between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to organize a group of experts on Aleppo.

U.S. Deputy Ambassador Michele Sison said that Churkin’s contention that the U.S. and Russia were on the cusp of reaching a deal was “a made up alibi.”

“We will not let Russia string along the Security Council while waiting for a compromise that never seems to come,” Sison said.

Russia has repeatedly blocked action in the Security Council over Syria where it is supporting Syrian government forces loyal to President Bashar Assad.