Russia on Friday vetoed a UN Security Council vote on a draft resolution submitted by Norway and Ireland to extend the mandate for cross-border humanitarian aid into Syria without Damascus’ approval. Moscow will only accept a six-month extension.
The humanitarian aid permit, which began in 2014, expires on Sunday. The Bab al-Hawa border crossing on the Syrian-Turkish border will provide aid to more than 2.4 million people in the Idlib region, which is under the control of jihadist groups and rebels.
Thirteen of the 15 countries in the Security Council voted in favor of the text. China, which in the past sided with Russia when it objected to it, this time chose to abstain. This did not go unnoticed by Western countries.
Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyansky, said that “the draft did not take into account the sovereignty of Damascus.” He accused the West of “stubbornness” by wanting to impose a new one-year permit. Russia itself drafted a six-month extension.
Admission ends on Sunday, so Security Council members have until Sunday evening to find common ground. In a worst-case scenario, observers say, that could still be Monday.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas Greenfield, condemned Russia’s position. She said it was a “middle text” proposed by Norway and Ireland. The diplomat said that six months was not enough to provide serious assistance to the population who needed a “clear calendar”.
On behalf of the 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council, Kenya said before the vote that the group was “extended” for 12 months. Since Wednesday, negotiations to break the deadlock have continued.
The Norway and Ireland text proposes extending the mandate until 10 January 2023. With a six-month extension until 10 July 2023, unless the Council decides otherwise.
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