Russia vetoes U.N. resolution to condemn Syria chemical attack

On Tuesday, the Trump administration openly accused Russian Federation of knowing before the April 4 attack of Assad's plan to use chemical weapons against civilians, an action that ultimately killed 74 people and wounded hundreds in Idlib province.

"It wasn't just us - it's the entire worldwide community holding the Assad regime and its sponsors responsible for the chemical attack and indiscriminate mass murders".

The newly hardened view of Moscow comes as the president has tried to shake suspicions about the motives behind his campaign calls for warmer relations.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley castigated Russian Federation and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after the resolution failed.

He restated the U.S. beliefs that Russian hackers and propagandists interfered in the United States vote and that Assad's forces were behind the latest chemical weapons attack. "Russia is engaged in a very sophisticated propaganda and disinformation campaign that is created to allow the Assad regime escape responsibility".

Russian Federation on Wednesday vetoed a United Nations draft resolution demanding the Syrian government cooperate with an investigation of a suspected chemical attack that the West blames on President Bashar al-Assad´s forces.

FILE - Russia's deputy United Nations ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, speaks during a Security Council meeting on the situation in Syria, April 7, 2017, at United Nations headquarters.

The less-than-positive assessments of relations by both Mr Trump and Mr Tillerson reflected the former Cold War foes' inability to forge greater co-operation, as Mr Trump until recently has advocated.

Last week's attack prompted Washington to launch a barrage of Tomahawk missiles on a Syrian air base.

Mr. Mattis also emphasised that the strike against the regime does not signal a change in the US policy of viewing the Islamic State as the primary enemy in Syria.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Putin might agree to resume an information-sharing "deconfliction" network with the United States on the countries' warplane flights in Syria.

"We frankly discussed the state of US-Russian relations. No one showed us anything, no one said anything, although we repeatedly asked to produce the details on which these unfounded accusations lie".

Russian Federation claims the Syrian regime is being unfairly blamed for the chemical attack, and on Wednesday Putin said that the attack was "simply staging" and a provocation, in his interview with MIR.

Previously, the Kremlin declined to confirm whether Putin would be able to meet with Tillerson. Russian intelligence operations in the USA are said by espionage experts to be at Cold War-levels already, and multiple probes are underway in Congress and by the Federal Bureau of Investigation into the extent of Russia influence in last year's election. What it has to be is a long-term one, involving pressure (read sanctions), constant diplomatic engagement, quiet support for Russian civil society and political dissent, and, on the velvet side, some demonstration to the Russians that their role and place in Syria could be guaranteed by ousting and bringing the Syrian civil war to an end.

Tillerson said Washington's belief that Assad planned and executed a chemical attack is "conclusive" and said it is not the first time Damascus has used chemical warfare since 2011. Russian Federation has never publicly acknowledged any such attack by Assad's forces and has tried for the past 18 months to help him expand his authority in Syria.

The civil war is separate from the USA -led effort against the Islamic State group in the north of the country. USA spending, too, has tapered off in recent years.

The US responded to the alleged chemical attack with a missile strike on the Shayrat air base in Syria, the first military action by the US against the Assad regime.

'We consider it of utmost importance to prevent the risks of replay of similar action in the future'.

The 2016 Minsk agreement was an attempt to stop the fighting in Ukraine between pro-Moscow rebels and the Ukrainian government.

But Mr Tillerson won support over the USA retaliatory strike on Syria, which he said was necessary to prevent chemical weapons falling into the hands of jihadist groups.

  • Leroy Wright