Russia and China veto Syria action

 

Britain today condemned as “inexcusable and indefensible” the decision by Russia and China to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution threatening sanctions against the regime of President Bashar Assad in Syria.

The vetoes came just hours after Prime Minister David Cameron issued a direct plea to Russian President Vladimir Putin not to block action against Assad, warning that Syria faces civil war unless the dictator leaves.

"The alternative to political transition at the top of Syria is revolution from the bottom in Syria," warned Mr Cameron during a visit to Afghanistan.

As fighting continued for the fifth day on the streets of capital Damascus, Foreign Secretary William Hague accused Moscow and Beijing of turning their backs on the people of Syria "in their darkest hour".

Mr Hague said Britain would now back a proposal from peace envoy Kofi Annan for a final 30-day extension of the UN observer mission in Syria after its mandate runs out on Friday, in order to give the Assad regime "a last opportunity to live up to its commitments".

But the UK will also seek tighter EU sanctions and look at what more it can do to help the Syrian opposition, he said.

And he made clear that, while today's resolution would not have authorised military action, the door had not been closed on the use of force in future, saying that Britain "will rule nothing out" in its efforts to end the killing.

In a warning to those in positions of power in Damascus, the Foreign Secretary said: "Today's veto does nothing to change the fact that the Assad regime is doomed.

"My message to all those in the regime is that they will be held accountable for their actions.

"The pressure on them will not relent for an instant in spite of the veto today.

"We will do all that we can do to end the killing and will rule nothing out in the future in these efforts."

Today's developments in New York came a day after the most daring strike by rebels since the outset of the uprising 16 months ago, when a bomb killed three leading regime figures, including Assad's brother-in-law and the defence minister, attending a crisis meeting in Damascus.

Rumours circulated that Assad himself may have been injured in the blast or have fled the capital with his British-born wife Asma, but state TV showed footage of him swearing in a new defence minister.

Government forces used attack helicopters, heavy machine guns and mortar shells against rebels in a fifth day of fighting in Damascus, while thousands of refugees flooded across the border into Lebanon.

The Security Council voted 11-2 in favour of a resolution which would have created a trigger for global sanctions if Damascus failed to live up to commitments to end the use of heavy weapons against insurgents and civilians, to step back from violence, permit UN observers to operate unhindered and move towards a political resolution.

But China and Russia were able to block agreement by wielding the vetoes they hold as permanent members of the 15-nation Council.

They instead backed a rival Russian resolution which would extend the observer mission by up to 90 days but was dismissed by the UK as ineffective.

Mr Hague - who has just returned from a visit to refugee camps in Jordan housing thousands of Syrians who have fled the violence - said he was "appalled" by their refusal to back the action requested by Mr Annan.

Speaking at the Foreign Office in London, Mr Hague said: "In the view of the UK, the decision by Russia and China to veto this resolution is inexcusable and indefensible.

"When it came to the time to turn agreements which they have supported into action to end the violence, they stood aside.

"They have turned their back on the people of Syria in their darkest hour."

He added: "The Syrian refugees I met in Jordan this week were desperate and despairing.

"They will feel abandoned and betrayed by this unjustifiable veto.

"I believe Russia and China will pay a serious price in the Middle East diplomatically and politically for taking this position.

"Many observers will conclude that they have put national interest ahead of the lives and rights of millions of Syrian people.

"And they will be held increasingly responsible for worsening the crisis in Syria."

Mr Hague dismissed Russia and China's characterisation of today's resolution as a Western plan, pointing out it was called for by the Arab League and backed by non-permanent Security Council members including India, Morocco and Colombia.

"It was not a Western proposition - it was what people and governments all over the world wanted to see," he said.

"And there was nothing in it which would have authorised military action."

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said: "I fear today's veto by Russia and China will be seen by Assad's regime as giving it the green light to continue with its brutal crackdown which has already cost the lives of so many innocent people.

"The conflict in Syria today symbolises not only a tragic betrayal of responsibility by the Syrian leadership, but a tragic and damaging divide within the international community."

PA

Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Environment
Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
environmentCan species be 'de-extincted'?
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A Pilgrim’s Progress is described by its publisher as “the one-and-only definitive record” of David Hockney's life and works
people
Sport
Loic Remy signs for Chelsea
footballBlues wrap up deal on the eve of the transfer window
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker
TV
Life and Style
Instagram daredevils get thousands of followers
techMeet the daredevil photographers redefining urban exploration with death-defying stunts
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'
TVDaughter says contestant was manipulated 'to boost ratings'
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

DT Technician

£65 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: DT Technician required to start...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: One of SThree's most successfu...

Nursery Manager

£10 - £11 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: Nursery Manager We are loo...

Early Years Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Early Years supply teachers neede...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor