UNITED NATIONS -- Russia and China on Tuesday blocked a United Nations Security Council resolution aimed at imposing sanctions on members and agencies of the Syrian government for using chemical weapons against civilians.
"It is a sad day on the Security Council," Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. said after the vote. "When members start making excuses for other member states killing their own people, the world is definitely a more dangerous place," Haley told council members. "The international community can look no further than the Security Council for contributing to that."
The resolution, drafted by France, the U.K. and the U.S., would have placed an asset freeze on 11 individuals and 10 entities deemed responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria. It also sought to impose an embargo on arms used to deliver chemical weapons, and ban the sale or transfer of helicopters to listed entities, which have been used for deploying chlorine gas against civilians.
French U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre introduced the draft to council members as "a response to the heinous crimes committed in Syria," corroborated by the findings of a collaborative mission between the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, known as JIM.
The JIM reports identified three instances of chemical weapons use backed by sufficient evidence of the culpability of the Syrian Armed Forces and one case of a chemical weapons attack by the Islamic State terrorist organization.
But Russia was unmoved. Vladimir Safronkov, deputy permanent representative of Russia to the U.N., cast Russia's seventh Security Council veto on Syria since the conflict began nearly six years ago.
Safronkov blasted the resolution for trying to impose Western values. "The statements we've heard leave no doubt the draft was put to a vote based on the doctrine of Western states. [Regarding] the outrageous statements made against Russia, China and other states, God shall judge you, and these statements will remain on your conscience."
"JIM's conclusions contain no convincing evidence on the basis of which any sort of allegations could be made," Safronkov told council members.
"We have the clear impression that the co-sponsors of the document put to a vote today were using the JIM for just one goal, and that is to lay blame on the government of Assad for the use of chemical weapons," Safronkov said, suggesting an aim to "create additional grounds to change the regime in Damascus."
The resolution, which garnered nine affirmative votes, would have passed had the two nations not vetoed it. China generally votes in line with the Russian position on Syria, and the veto it cast Tuesday was its sixth on a resolution seeking to address the conflict.
In addition to Russia and China, one nonpermanent council member, Bolivia, also voted against. Three members, Kazakhstan, Egypt and Ethiopia, abstained.
Tuesday's vote comes after months of extensive negotiations between the resolution's drafters and Russia, which backs the Damascus government led by President Bashar al-Assad.