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Russia's vetoes of UN resolutions on Syria

UNITED NATIONS (UNITED STATES) (AFP) - 

Russia, Syria's top military ally, on Wednesday used its veto power for the eighth time at the UN Security Council to block action directed at its ally in Damascus since unrest erupted there in 2011.

The draft UN resolution had demanded that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad cooperate with an investigation into the deadly suspected chemical attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun on April 4.

Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States are permanent UN Security Council members with veto powers, while the other 10 members are elected for two-year terms on a rotating basis.

UN resolutions require nine positive votes and no veto to be adopted.

The following recounts Russia's seven previous vetoes, six of which were followed by China. Beijing abstained in Wednesday's vote.

- 'Unacceptable' -

October 4, 2011: Six months after the Syrian conflict begins, Russia and China block a proposed UN resolution to impose "targeted measures" against Assad's regime.

Moscow, which terms the proposal "unacceptable," pushes its own version that emphasizes a need for dialogue and seeks to bring pressure on opposition groups as well as the Syrian government.

- 'Responsibility for the horrors' -

February 4, 2012: Russia and China again veto a resolution that condemns a Syrian government crackdown on the opposition, while the Security Council's other members vote in favor.

The veto sparks an international outcry, especially because it comes a few hours after Syrian forces bomb the protest city of Homs, killing hundreds of people.

Then US secretary of state Hillary Clinton says that by blocking the resolution, Beijing and Moscow must "bear responsibility for the horrors that are occurring on the ground in Syria."

- Blocking foreign intervention -

July 19, 2012: Beijing and Moscow again veto a Western-backed resolution that threatens Damascus with sanctions if it does not halt its use of heavy weapons.

The resolution sought to "open the path to the pressure of sanctions and further to external military involvement in Syrian domestic affairs," Russia's then UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin says afterwards.

US Ambassador Susan Rice charges, meanwhile, that "the Security Council has failed utterly."

- Russian charges of hypocrisy -

May 22, 2014: A French-drafted proposal for the Security Council to refer Syrian crimes to the International Criminal Court (ICC) is blocked, again by Beijing and Moscow.

Sixty government bodies from around the world voice support for the move, but Churkin accuses France, Britain and the US of hypocrisy in not wanting war crimes in Iraq referred to the ICC.

- Russia goes it alone -

October 8, 2016: Russia alone vetoes a text proposed by France to halt the bombing of Aleppo, after presenting a rival draft that urges a ceasefire but makes no mention of halting the bombing campaign.

China abstains.

- 'Provocative step' -

December 5, 2016: A resolution that calls for a truce in Aleppo is vetoed by both China and Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticizes the proposal as a "provocative step."

- Chemical weapons -

February 28, 2017: Russia and China again veto a UN resolution, drafted by Britain, France and the United States that would have imposed sanctions on Syria over chemical weapons use in the conflict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had warned that imposing sanctions on Syria during ongoing peace talks in Geneva was "completely inappropriate" and would undermine the effort to end Syria's war.

© 2017 AFP