Russia defends its veto on aid to northwest Syria for a year
UNITED NATIONS (AP) – Russia has defended its veto of a UN resolution that would have extended humanitarian aid deliveries to 4.1 million Syrians in the rebel-held northwest from Turkey for a year , insisting his demand for just a six-month extension was essential and accusing Western nations of using « underhanded » tactics and trying to « rule the world ».
Russia’s Deputy Ambassador Dmitry Polyansky had to defend Moscow’s veto on a resolution on July 8 before the General Assembly for only the second time since the 193-member world body passed a resolution on April 26 demanding that any member of the Security Council who vetoes explain their reasoning during an assembly debate on the matter.
Polyansky insisted that a resolution should be limited to six months, with a new resolution needed for another six months, to assess progress on Russia’s demands. He said these include scaling up aid deliveries across conflict lines in Syria, more early recovery programs in the country, greater transparency in aid operations and halting « international terrorists » to receive aid deliveries.
He blamed Western supporters of a one-year extension for failing to make progress on cross-cutting aid deliveries and early recovery projects. Those demands were included in last year’s resolution extending aid deliveries from Turkey by a year, he said.
US Deputy Ambassador Richard Mills hit back, accusing Russia of abusing its veto power for the 17th time on a Syrian resolution, this time on a measure to facilitate humanitarian aid to millions of people suffering from 11 years of war.
To avoid a halt to aid deliveries through Turkey’s Bab al-Hawa crossing, the Security Council approved a six-month extension on July 11, but Mills stressed the consequences: a second resolution will be needed in January when the humanitarian needs, which are now greater than they have ever been, « will be the greatest ».
« This delay risks leaving Syrians without blankets, without heating fuel, depriving them of a regular supply of basic foodstuffs during the colder months if the resolution confirming the second six-month extension is not passed. » , he warned.
Mills urged the international community to come together « and to firewall any further politicization of what is a purely humanitarian issue ».
Northwest Idlib is the last rebel-held stronghold in Syria and an area where an al-Qaeda-linked militant group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, is most powerful. The UN said recently that the first 10 years of the Syrian conflict, which began in 2011, killed more than 300,000 civilians, the highest official estimate of civilian casualties.
Polyansky accused Western countries of « supporting international terrorists whom they have trained and equipped to overthrow the legitimate Syrian authorities ».
By exercising its veto, he said, « the Russian Federation has once again protected Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity ».
He asked the ambassadors representing their countries in the hemicycle: “Who will protect you if you get sucked into other games? Who will prevent you from turning into another Ukraine, which has become a mere pawn in the geopolitical chess game of the West against the Russian Federation, and has cost the lives of its citizens for the advancement of the interests of the States United States and their NATO allies.
European Union adviser Thibault Camelli stressed that humanitarian actions in Syria « must not be disrupted, targeted or politicized », stressing to the assembly that the EU and its member states are the largest donor to aid to the country.
« Humanitarian needs in Syria have increased and will likely continue to increase, particularly in light of the food crisis due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, » he said. , more than 12 million Syrians are food insecure and depend on external food aid for their survival. »
Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press