Members vote during a United Nations Security Council meeting on Syria, July 19, 2012.
Members vote during a United Nations Security Council meeting on Syria, July 19, 2012.

China and Russia have vetoed a Western-backed draft resolution against the Syrian government, requesting a new mandate for unarmed military observers in the Arab country.

The permanent UN Security Council members on Thursday blocked the resolution which called for new sanctions against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

The vote had been postponed on Wednesday upon a request by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan and warnings from Moscow that the resolution for sanctions “would amount to direct support” for the terrorist groups in that country.

West’s Reaction

Britain, France and Germany have criticized China and Russia for their veto of a draft UN Security Council resolution urging sanctions against the Syrian government.

US envoy to the UN Susan Rice also denounced the veto as “dangerous and deplorable,” claiming that the resolution was not aimed at military intervention in Syria but to provide support for diplomatic efforts.

“We will increase our work outside Security Council,” she went on to say.

“The United Kingdom is appalled at the veto of Russia and China,” said Britain’s UN envoy Mark Lyall Grant, whose country led the anti-Syrian motion at the council.

France’s UN Ambassador Gerard Araud also claimed that the veto threatened to end the peace mission of UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

“We will continue to support Syrian opposition,” he vowed.

The German envoy Peter Wittig also followed suit to criticize the veto, saying that the resolution would not have led to military intervention.

Wittig accused the Syrian government of breaking all its commitments and embarking on a war with its own people. The days of President Assad are being numbered, he said.

China, Russia Defense

Chinese UN envoy Li Baodong denounced the resolution for violating the consensus reached in the talks held in Geneva earlier in the month.

He said the draft was aimed at putting pressure on only one party and that it would have undermined regional peace, had it been approved.

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin also defended the veto, arguing that the draft resolution was “biased,” and that the sponsors of the draft were already aware it would be vetoed.

He also reiterated Russia’s opposition against any foreign military invention in Syria.

In a news conference shortly after the Security Council vote, Churkin said the British-proposed draft resolution against Syria was ridiculous as it contained two points that contradict each other.

He said talking about sanctions against Syria is inappropriate. “We do not back actions which are detrimental,” he told reporters.

Churkin described the unrest in Syria as a geopolitical battle that is being fought in the Arab nation.

He urged that the international community should focus its efforts to support UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s efforts to restore calm in Syria, warning that some countries are trying to distract the world’s attention from Annan’s peace plan.