Russia, China and Bolivia Call British Bluff at UNSC Session

April 6, 2017

At yesterday's emergency session of the UN Security Council, called by the U.S., the UK, and France to debate their resolution blaming Syria for the April 4 chemical weapons attack in Idlib, the British UN ambassador Peter Wilson tried to set the tone for the discussion with a raving attack on Russia and China which, he said, had "encouraged" Syrian President al-Assad to kill his own people, by vetoing previous anti-Syria resolutions.

The foolish U.S. ambassador, Nikki Haley, echoed the British rant with her own wild accusations against Russia for supporting the "illegitimate" and "barbaric" Assad regime and blocking the Security Council's work.

Russia and China hit back—hard—while Bolivian UN Ambassador Sacha Llorentty Soliz reminded those present that "we wouldn't be sitting here today," after seven years of war in Syria, had it not been for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and regime-change policies that have sowed chaos in the Middle East. China's Ambassador Liu Jieyi told Wilson to his face that his statements were "not to be tolerated...don't hold water," and that Britain should stop "abusing the Security Council" and "refrain from such actions." More than anything else, Syria requires a political settlement, he warned. The major urgent priority right now, he said, is strengthening counterterrorism.

Wilson had argued that Tuesday's chemical attack in Idlib was the direct "consequence" of the Russian and Chinese vetos of earlier anti-Syrian resolutions. He went so far as to absolve terrorists of any responsibility, proclaiming that the Idlib attack "doesn't look like the work of terrorists. We've seen nothing to suggest that non-state actors have this capability... Only one Air Force"—Syria's—has used these weapons before. He then challenged Russia: "What is your plan? We had a plan, and you blocked it. Stop blocking and start helping! We expect your unanimous support."

Looking directly at Wilson, Russia's Deputy acting UN envoy Vladimir Zafronkov stated that yes, Russia does have a plan: to combat terrorism. As for the UK, it is "irresponsible," he said. "Have you taken any responsibility in Syria? No, you don't. You're obsessed with regime change. You're trying to get the UN Security Council to grant you the cover of legitimacy for your illegitimate actions," he charged. The British ambassador, he said, has gone beyond all diplomatic norms, and his charges against Russia and China are unacceptable. "I would have thought that the diplomatic service of the UK would have long ago abandoned these tactics," Zafronkov said.

Still addressing Wilson, the Russian envoy said there is no need for "your resolution" to be passed. Earlier resolutions allow for a thorough investigation by the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM), but the latter needs support, staff, and membership with a broader geographical representation, which it currently lacks. While chemical terrorism increases in Syria, he warned, the UNSC has failed to take any meaningful action. It has remained indifferent.