Rice: Russia siding with dictator over people

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Portugal's Ambassador to the UN Jose Filipe Moraes Cabral (L), Russia's Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin (C) and South Africa's Ambassador to the UN Baso Sangqu during a vote on a resolution on Syria in the United Nations Security Council during a meeting on Syria February 4, 2012 at the United Nations in New York. Russia and China on Saturday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning the Syrian government's deadly crackdown on protests for the second time. Thirteen countries voted for the resolution proposed by European and Arab nations to give strong backing to the Arab League's plan to end the crackdown. But Russia and China made a repeat of their rare double veto carried out on October 5 on an earlier condemnation. AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
DON EMMERT

In joining with China Saturday to veto a United Nations resolution that would have supported a peaceful transition of power in Syria, Russia has decided to "stand with a dictator" rather than support the Syrian people, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said.

Saturday's veto by Russia and China came just hours after Syrian's armed forces launched an attack on the city of Homs, which has been a flashpoint of dissent in the 10-month uprising against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Activists said 200 people were killed in the massacre. The Syrian government rejects the charge.

According to the United Nations, more than 5,400 people have been killed since the uprising began last March.

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Appearing Monday on "CBS This Morning," Rice accused Moscow of protecting Assad ("somebody whose days are numbered") instead of the Syrian people who are "protesting peacefully for their basic universal rights.

"What happened on Saturday was really, as Secretary Clinton said, a travesty," Rice told Charlie Rose. "The entire Security Council - 13 countries less China and Russia - were ready to pass a resolution that would have been quite important, in that it would have supported the Arab League plan and that plan entailed a democratic transition in which President Assad would have to delegate his authority and responsibility to his vice president to negotiate the terms of a transition. Russia and China rejected it.

"This was a decision, I think, that over time Russia and China will come to regret," Rice said. "It was shortsighted. They are the ones that are isolated now along with the Assad regime."

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"Are we looking at a civil war in Syria?" asked Rose.

"I think that tragically the risk of that is increasing, because this was perhaps one of the last opportunities to back and support the Arab League and their efforts to bring the parties to the table to negotiate a peaceful transition to democracy.

"Certainly, the United States and the rest of the members of the Security Council, minus China and Russia, have an interest - as do the Arab League - in a very peaceful transition. We'll continue to promote that, we'll continue to step up the pressure on the Assad regime through all means - diplomatic, economic and otherwise. But the risk of civil war is indeed increasing."