Russian Federation vetoes United Nations resolution on Syria

Activists including the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said buses carrying rebels began leaving the rebel-held towns Madaya and Zabadani near Damascus on Friday morning in the first phase of the deal, which will also see the evacuation of residents from two pro-government Shiite villages in northern Syria.

Russia's hopes for a thaw in Russia-U.S. ties following Trump's election have been shattered by the congressional investigation into alleged ties between Trump's campaign associates and Russian Federation. Any expectations of an easy rapport have crashed into reality amid the nasty back-and-forth over Syria and ongoing US investigations into Russia's activity connected to the USA presidential election. Tillerson traveled to Moscow with a joint message from Western powers that Russian Federation should withdraw its support for Assad after a meeting of the Group of Seven industrialized economies also attended by Middle East allies. Russian Federation says rebels were responsible for whatever chemical agent was used, which the Trump administration calls a disinformation campaign. As the Federal Bureau of Investigation and multiple congressional committees investigate possible collusion between Russian Federation and Trump's campaign, the president and his aides can now point to his hard-line stance on Syrian President Bashar Assad as evidence he's willing to stand up to Putin.

Putin dismissed United States charges against the Syrian government over chemical weapons, insisting that the Assad government had destroyed its chemical stockpiles following a 2013 agreement brokered by Moscow with the Obama administration. It was not the first meeting between the two.

The one concrete result of the discussions in Moscow was the announcement that Putin had raised the prospect of reestablishing a "deconfliction" hotline between USA and Russian military forces operating in Syria.

In the joint press conference following the day-long discussions, Tillerson gave a faint indication of the dire implications of the rising tensions between Washington and Moscow.

"There is a low level of trust between our two countries", Mr Tillerson told reporters in Moscow.

Mr Tillerson said there was "a low level of trust" between both countries and such a relationship could not be allowed to continue between the world's foremost nuclear powers.

It was the eighth time that Russian Federation has used its veto power to block action directed at Damascus. Putin doubled down on Russia's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, repeating denials that Assad's government was to blame for the gas attack last week and adding a new theory that the attack may have been faked by Assad's enemies. Three others, including China, abstained. "We are ready to help bring this conflict to an end", US Ambassador Nikki Haley told the Security Council as it met.

Ahead of the vote, Russia's Deputy Representative to the UN Vladimir Safronkov told the council that putting the draft resolution into a vote did not serve a useful objective. "I'm amazed that this was the conclusion", he said.

United Nations investigators already have the mandate under previous resolutions to look into allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria but the West had pushed for council resolution to underscore its support for a thorough investigation in the Khan Sheikhun case. Standing side-by-side with Nato's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House, Trump said: "It would be wonderful. if North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and our country could get along with Russian Federation".

With a "no" vote from permanent member Russian Federation, the United Nations Security Council Wednesday failed to adopt a resolution that would have condemned the reported use of chemical weapons in Syria and called on the Government to cooperate with an investigation into the incident.

Stoltenberg praised the alliance for deploying four battalions of troops on Russia's doorstep in the Baltics and Poland, including United States forces. They will join six other Russian warships and support vessels already deployed in waters off Syria.

  • Leroy Wright