On Wednesday, Russia blocked a U.N. Security Council effort to condemn the deadly gas attack in Syria last week and push Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to cooperate with an international investigation into the chemical assault. Russia, who has aligned itself closely with the Assad regime, used its veto power to cover the Syrian government for the eighth time since the Syrian civil war began in 2010.
“Russia once again has chosen to side with Assad, even as the rest of the world, including the Arab world, overwhelmingly comes together to condemn this murderous regime,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said to the Security Council.
“If the regime is innocent, as Russia claims, the information requested in this resolution would have vindicated them,” she continued.
Vladimir Safronov, Russia’s deputy U.N. envoy, slammed the Security Council for making an assumption as to who was responsible for the attack without ever visiting the location.
“I’m amazed that this was the conclusion. No one has yet visited the site of the crime. How do you know that?” Safronov said.
The deadly attack in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun caused the United States to act in retaliation by launching 59 Tomahawk missiles to the Shayrat air base in Homs, where U.S. officials deduced that the chemical attack was launched from. Assad’s ally Russia condemned the U.S. missile strikes and called them an “act of aggression” that was “in violation of international law.” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that the U.S. missile strikes in Syria “was on the brink of military clashes with Russia.”
After the chemical attacks, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Russia didn’t look “so good” after its attempts to help Syria obtain chemical weapons in 2013.
“Stockpiles and continued use demonstrate that Russia has failed in its responsibility to deliver on its 2013 commitment,” Tillerson said. “It is unclear whether Russia failed to take this obligation seriously or Russia has been incompetent but this distinction doesn’t much matter to the dead.”