The blocked resolution was drafted by the United States to continue an international investigation, which expired midnight Thursday, on who is to blame for sarin attacks in Syria.

Representatives of Russia and Bolivia vote in the UN Security Council on a bid to renew an international inquiry into chemical weapons attacks in Syria during a meeting at the UN headquarters in New York.
Representatives of Russia and Bolivia vote in the UN Security Council on a bid to renew an international inquiry into chemical weapons attacks in Syria during a meeting at the UN headquarters in New York. ( Reuters )

Russia cast its 10th veto on Thursday against United Nations Security Council action on Syria since the war there began in 2011. With its vote, Russia has blocked a US-drafted resolution to renew an international inquiry into who is to blame for chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

The mandate for the joint inquiry by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which found the Syrian regime used the banned nerve agent sarin in an April 4 attack, expires at midnight Thursday.

A resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by the United States, France, Russia, Britain or China to be adopted. The US draft text received 11 votes in favour, while Russia and Bolivia voted against it and China and Egypt abstained.

The April 4 sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun that killed dozens of people prompted the United States to launch missiles on a Syrian air base. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley warned after the council vote on Thursday: "We will do it again if we must."

"The Assad regime should be on clear notice - the United States does not accept Syria's use of chemical weapons," she told the council, referring to Syria's Bashar al Assad.

"Russia has killed the Joint Investigative Mechanism ... Russia has undermined our ability to deter future attacks," Haley said, accusing Moscow of "playing games" with the council's attempt to renew the chemical weapons investigation.

"In effect, Russia accepts the use of chemical weapons in Syria. How then can we trust Russia's support for supposed peace in Syria?" she said.

Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the US draft resolution was not balanced.

"We need a robust, professional mechanism that will help to prevent the proliferation of the threat of chemical terrorism in the region and you need a puppet-like structure to manipulate public opinion," Nebenzia said.

TRT World's Hasan Ali reports from Washington on Russian and American sides at the UN.

Russian bid to renew Syria inquiry fails

Syrian ally Russia withdrew its own rival draft resolution to renew the inquiry, known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), after unsuccessfully pushing for its proposal to be considered second and not first, as council rules required.

Following the vote on the US draft, Bolivia then requested a vote on the Russian text. It failed, receiving only four votes in favour, seven against and four abstentions.

Nebenzia said he was "deeply disappointed" and that those who voted against the Russian draft "bear the full brunt of responsibility for the cessation of operation of the JIM."

After the meeting ended, Japan circulated a draft resolution to roll over the mandate for the inquiry for one month, diplomats said. It was not immediately clear when the council could vote.

TRT World's William Denselow reports from New York.

While Russia agreed to the 2015 creation of the JIM, it has consistently questioned its findings, which also concluded that the Syrian regime used chlorine as a weapon several times.

Russia has now vetoed 10 resolutions on Syria, including blocking an initial US bid on October 24 to renew the JIM, saying it wanted to wait for the release two days later of the inquiry's report that blamed the sarin attack on the Syrian regime.

Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons in 2013 under a deal brokered by Russia and the United States.

Ahead of the council vote, US President Donald Trump on Thursday urged the UN Security Council to renew the inquiry, saying it was needed to prevent Assad from using chemical weapons.

Source: Reuters