Russia pledges to veto UN sanctions resolution on Syria

Russia pledged to veto a Western-backed U.N. resolution Tuesday that would impose sanctions on 21 Syrian individuals, organizations and companies allegedly involved in chemical weapons attacks in the war-ravaged country.

The draft Security Council resolution would also ban all countries from supplying Syria’s government with helicopters, which investigators have determined were used in chemical attacks.

The resolution, initially sponsored by Britain and France, was recently joined by the new United States administration of President Donald Trump.

France’s U.N. ambassador, Francois Delattre, said Monday that his government was “very pleased that the new American administration has confirmed it shares completely our view” on the need for sanctions. British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said U.S. support was a sign that the three countries are determined to oppose the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and “make sure that chemical weapons cannot be used with impunity.”

The resolution follows a joint investigation by the United Nations and the international chemical weapons watchdog that determined the Syrian government was behind at least three attacks involving chlorine gas and the Islamic State group was responsible for at least one involving mustard gas.

Russia, Syria’s closest ally, joined the Western nations in establishing the joint investigation, known as the JIM, to determine responsibility for chemical attack.

But Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, said Friday that Moscow would veto the resolution, which he described as “one-sided,” ”based on insufficient evidence” and “a provocation.”

In a sharp retort, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley asked: “How much longer is Russia going to continue to babysit and make excuses for the Syrian regime? … People have died by being suffocated to death. That’s barbaric.”

The Syrian government denies using chemical weapons in the civil war, now in its sixth year, but the three Western…

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