Russia and China both vetoed a UN resolution on Tuesday that condemned Syria and called for “targeted measures” if the Bashar al-Asad regime continues its crackdown on anti-government protesters. According to Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, Moscow’s veto reflected “a conflict of political approaches” and Russia was concerned the resolution would open the door to a Libya-style intervention. Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong, for his part, said his country opposed the idea of “interference in [Syria’s] internal affairs” and that “sanctions, or threat of sanctions, do not help the situation in Syria.”
However, by the time the resolution was brought to vote, it was a “vastly watered-down text,” according to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, as the draft underwent repeated dilutions and did not even mention sanctions but only demanded that the Syrian regime end its violence against civilians. The UN estimates that more than 2,900 people have died during the last seven months of protests.
China vetoes a UN Security Council resolution against Syria on Oct. 4.
According to an article in The New York Times, the rare double veto highlights both Moscow and Beijing’s concern over losing influence in the changing Middle East, and also their trust that Asad will remain in power. In addition, the article states that both countries fear that the U.S. and other Western powers are fueling the protests in the Middle East to create favorable situations and further their personal interests, which Russia and China want to prevent from happening.
The vetoes represent one more truth, however: Washington’s diminishing influence worldwide. That the White House couldn’t convince Moscow and Beijing to accept such a toothless resolution at the UN is, unfortunately, a telling sign of where it stands in their eyes.