When Russia gave the floor to the Syrian ambassador to the UN, the UK, US, France and Ukraine walked out of the hall in protest.
The Russian ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, currently presiding over the security council, cast the veto against a Franco-Spanish resolution that had demanded an end to all aerial bombardment and overflights of Aleppo by Russian and Syrian regime aircraft. The resolution also called for a resumed ceasefire and the delivery of humanitarian supplies to besieged population.
China abstained, further isolating Russia on the issue, along with Angola. Venezuela was the only other country to vote with Russia against the resolution.
A Russian counter-resolution, which omitted mention of aerial bombardment, was voted down with nine votes against and four in favour.
The bitter divisions in the council, which faces a high and rapidly rising death toll in eastern Aleppo, produced a heated but fruitless debate that saw some of the normal diplomatic niceties abandoned.
“Normally I begin my statement with, ‘Thank you Mr President’,” Matthew Rycroft, the UK ambassador to the UN, said at the start of his remarks. “I cannot do this today.”
“This council cannot stand by while such misery is meted out on the people of Aleppo. And yet, thanks to you, Mr President, that is exactly what we are doing,” Rycroft told the council. “Thanks to your actions today, Syrians will continue to lose their lives in Aleppo and beyond to Russian and Syrian bombing. Please stop now.”
Under the system of monthly rotating presidents at the UN Security Council, Russia is currently president. There are 5 permanent members and 10 elected members of the Security Council
On its news site, the UN recalled the recent briefing by UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, who had said that if urgent action is not taken thousands of Syrians would be killed and towns, such as eastern Aleppo could be totally destroyed by the end of this year.
Russian propaganda sites tried to portray their counter-resolution as a “peace” action.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick