US-Russia head on collision in UNSC
UNITED NATIONS: (APP) Russia and the United States were headed for a clash at the UN Security Council on Tuesday as Moscow prepared to veto a draft resolution that would impose sanctions on Syria.
The council will vote on a text drafted by the United States, Britain and France that would put 11 Syrians and 10 entities linked to chemical attacks in 2014 and 2015 on a UN blacklist.
Russia has vowed to use its veto to block the measure, which would mark the seventh time that Moscow has resorted to its veto power to shield its Damascus ally.
"In terms of sanctions against the Syrian leadership, I think that now they are completely inappropriate," Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday at a press conference in Kyrgyzstan.
"This would not help the negotiation process but would only interfere or undermine confidence," Putin said, adding that Russia "will not support any new sanctions in relation to Syria."
The vote scheduled for 11:30 am (1630 GMT) would mark the first major council action by the new US administration of President Donald Trump, who is seeking warmer ties with Russia.
British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said the three countries were united in the view that those responsible for chemical weapons use must be held accountable.
Support for the resolution will send a "strong, clear message... that the international community means business on preventing the use of these abhorrent weapons," Rycroft said.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley was in Washington on Monday to join Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for a White House lunch.
"How much longer is Russia going to continue to babysit and make excuses for the Syrian regime?" she said on Friday following a closed-door council meeting on Syria.
"People have died by being suffocated to death. That's barbaric."
The vote would see the Trump administration joining old allies France and Britain to confront Russia over its support for Syria.
"We are very pleased that the new American administration has confirmed it shares completely our view on this and so we are ready to move forward," said French Ambassador Francois Delattre.
Russian Deputy Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov said Friday that Moscow would veto the measure because it was "one-sided" and based on "insufficient proof."
The Syrian government has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons in the war that has killed 310,000 people since March 2011.