Russia has used its veto power to block a US resolution in the United Nations Security Council, which would have extended a UN mandate for further investigations into the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syria.
On the 2nd of November, a joint report was issued by the Russian Defense Ministry, Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Industry and Trade which represents the most exhaustive debunking of the White Helmkets/al-Qaeda authored “Syrian Chemical Weapons” narrative to-date.
Russia had proposed its own resolution on the matter, but withdrew it prior to the vote on the US draft, which like previous US statements and resolutions at the UN, disregards evidence pointing to the total absence of chemical weapons in the possession of the Syrian Arab Army, a fact which has been documented since 2013 when Syria agreed to give up its final stockpiles of chemical weapons. In any case, Syria, even when it had chemical weapons, never used them. Syria began developing chemical weapons in the late 1960s as a cheaper alternative to nuclear weapons. The intention was to deter Israel from attacking Syria, in the aftermath of Syria learning of Israel’s elicit nuclear weapons stockpiles.
The move at the UN comes after a week which has been filled with Russia taking a stronger line against US actions in Syria than at any previous time.
Key statements and actions from Russia this week include:
1. Russia debunking rumours of US origin that Russia intends to force Iran to forego its legal presence in Syria as an ally of Damascus.
2. Russia debunking a statement from US Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis who said that the UN authorised US military action in Syria, a statement which is categorically untrue. Russia affirmed that the US presence in Syria was and remains illegal according to international law.
3. Russia produced evidence showing that the US helps evacuate ISIS terrorists from the lines of fire in Syria.
4. Russia affirmed Syria’s stance that the US does not fire upon ISIS targets when it has a clear chance to do so.
5. Russia stated that the US presence in Syria is an obstacle to peace and to the territorial unity of the Syrian Arab Republic. Adding to this, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov effectively told the US that even according to their own previous statements regarding vacating Syria once ISIS is destroyed, that the US should leave Syria in an orderly fashion.
6. Russia stated that the US is an obstacle to Syrian and allied air traffic in the country.
7. Finally, Russia vetoed the US resolution to extend the UN’s mandate on investigating chemical weapons.
The piece linked below, details the Russian statements and actions from earlier this week,
Today’s Russian veto at the UN Security Council is a further sign that in both the military, geo-strategic and now diplomatic arena, Russia is increasingly fed up with US stalling techniques in Syria. Because the long-term stability of the Syrian government is now all but a certainty, further moves designed to undermine the full liberation of Syria are being exposed for what they are: US attempts to sow discord over Syria on the international stage, just as Syria is on the verge of attaining a supreme victory.
Furthermore, with Russia drawing closer to Turkey, re-starting its historically good relations with Iraq, while retaining its good relations with both Iran and Syria, the US is now increasingly isolated when it comes to geo-political opinion on Syria, both in respect of its geo-political manoeuvres and diplomatically. Turkey has recently joined Iran and Syria as a regional state which now believes the US presence in Syria is detrimental to a peaceful settlement to the conflict. All the while, Saudi Arabia and for different reasons, Qatar, have largely written off their Syrian experiment as a costly and ultimately failed project. This is one of the reasons why Riyadh has shifted its attention to Lebanon. It is a clear admission of Saudi’s failure to gain influence and geo-strategic control over both Iraq and Syria. Through all of this, China has backed the Russian and Syrian position.
While Donald Trump heaved a Tweet in the direction of the UN over the issue of chemical weapons, Russia felt that it had no need to even partly placate a US administration which is unable to engage in any meaningful discussions with Russia.
Need all on the UN Security Council to vote to renew the Joint Investigative Mechanism for Syria to ensure that Assad Regime does not commit mass murder with chemical weapons ever again.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 16, 2017
This yet again confirms that when it comes to working on pragmatic yet meaningful terms with a country that had previously been fighting for illegal regime change in Syria, that country is Turkey rather than the United States. Donald Trump promised a pivot on US policy in Syria, but in reality, the more unlikely figure of Turkey’s President Erdogan has in fact been the leader of a NATO member that has ultimately pivoted his nation’s position on this critical issue. This is especially the case now that Russia has stepped further away from a position of sympathy for Kurdish agitations in the region. Turkey’s sincerity on the issue can be ascertained by the fact that Russia is able to use its economic leverage and its regional influence against Turkey if need be. For the moment, President Erdogan seems to be more than happy to cooperate with Russia and Iran, in spite of lingering differences which in reality, won’t amount to anything that could change the trajectory of the conflict which is firmly in the favour of Damascus and its traditional partners.
The Russian veto at the UN represents a symbolically important statement from Russia that can be summed up as “We’ve had enough”. The US is playing a low-brow game of ‘keep away’ designed to delay a final settlement in Syria. Russia by contrast is trying to expedite the process and is working with all the key regional players, including and most important Syria herself, in order to achieve this.