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Russia Again Vetoes Chemical Weapons Resolutions on Syria


Russian diplomats gesture behind Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia during a Security Council meeting at the U.N. headquarters in New York, Sept. 4, 2017.

Russia has again vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have extended an international probe into chemical weapons use in Syria, one day after it rejected a similar resolution.

Japan had put forward a resolution that would have extended the investigation to identify who is behind chemical weapons attacks in Syria by 30 days to allow time for negotiations on a wider compromise.

On Thursday, the United States sponsored a similar resolution with a yearlong extension that was also vetoed by Russia.

Russian proposal fails

A separate Russian draft resolution Thursday that called for changes to the international investigation failed to get enough votes to pass, with just four countries supporting it. The Russian proposal included changes to the mandate that the United States opposed.

Without passage of any extension, the mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) expired Thursday at midnight.

Friday’s veto by Russia was the 11th time Russia vetoed a resolution on Syria.

After Friday’s vote, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council: “Russia has no interest in finding common ground with the rest of this council to save the JIM. Russia will not agree to any mechanism that might shine a spotlight on the use of chemical weapons by its ally, the Syrian regime. It’s as simple and shameful as that.”

Haley offered “sincere apologies” to the “families of the victims of chemical weapons in Syria and the Syrian children, women and men who may be victims of future attacks.”

She added: “Know that the United States, along with the rest of this council, will not give up on seeking justice for your lost loved ones and protection for your families. Know that Russia can obstruct this council, but it cannot obstruct the truth.”

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the inquiry could only be extended if “fundamental flaws in its work” were fixed.

Series of attacks

The Joint Investigative Mechanism began its work more than two years ago after a series of chemical weapons attacks against civilians in Syria that killed or caused agony to hundreds.

The U.N. investigators have blamed the Syrian government for using the banned nerve agent sarin in an April 4 attack and for several times using chlorine as a weapon. It blamed Islamic State militants for using mustard gas.

Syria’s government says terrorists, its word for the opposition, are responsible for all the attacks.

Russia, which is Syria’s most powerful ally, has supported investigations into chemical weapons but criticized the reports as being unfair to the Syrian government.