Russia has cast a second veto in the United Nations Security Council to block a resolution that sought the renewal of an international inquiry into chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
-drafted resolution, which would have extended the so-called Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) for 30 days to allow time for talks on a wider compromise, was rejected by Russia using its veto power on Friday after 12 members of the world body voted in favor of the joint inquiry, while China abstained and Bolivia voted no.
The mandate for the joint inquiry by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which was unanimously formed by the 15-member of the UNSC in 2015, ended on Friday.
On April 4, dozens of people were killed in a chemical attack in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun in the northwestern province of Idlib. The US and its allies were quick to accuse Syrian government forces of carrying out the attack.
This is while the Syrian government handed over its entire chemical stockpile under a deal negotiated by Russia and the US back in 2013. The OPCW oversaw the operation.
The incident, which was yet to be investigated thoroughly and properly, prompted Washington to hit a Syrian air base with 59 cruise missiles a few days later, inflicting heavy damage to the Syrian air force, which is combating the foreign-backed militancy in the Arab country.
The Japan-drafted resolution came after Moscow on Thursday vetoed a US-drafted resolution that would have allowed the expert investigators to keep on their work for a year.
“Any extension of the JIM’s mandate for us is possible only provided fundamental flaws in its work are rectified,” said Russia’s UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia, accusing the JIM’s leadership of having “disgraced itself with its fictitious investigation” of the sarin gas attack on the Syrian town.
The Russian envoy added that the panel had “signed its name on baseless accusations against Syria.”
The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, criticized Moscow’s stance on the issue, saying, “Russia will not agree to any mechanism that might shine a spotlight
on the use of chemical weapons by its ally, the Syrian regime.”
A separate Russian draft resolution, calling for changes to the JIM, failed to obtain enough votes for adoption, with just four votes cast in favor.