Russia And China Veto Syria Resolution

Foreign Secretary William Hague leads international outcry, branding Russia and China's UN veto "inexcusable".

Video: Veto Condemned Amid Syria Violence

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Foreign Secretary William Hague criticises Russia and China for once again vetoing a UN call for sanctions on Syria.

Video: Hague: Syria Veto 'Inexcusable'

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  • Russia and China have again vetoed a UN resolution threatening sanctions against President Bashar al Assad's government if it did not stop using heavy weapons.

    The 11-2 vote, with two abstentions from South Africa and Pakistan, was the third double veto of a Syria resolution by Damascus' most important allies.

    The UK, United States and France all said the UN had failed the people of Syria by failing to act.

    Foreign Secretary William Hague denounced the Russian and Chinese vetoes as "inexcusable and indefensible" and said both countries will "pay a serious price" for their stance.

    Mr Hague said: "When it came to the time to turn agreements which they have supported into action to end the violence, they stood aside from that.

    "They have turned their back on the people of Syria in their darkest hour."

    The vote also leaves in limbo the future of the 300-strong UN observer mission in Syria, whose mandate expires on Friday.

    Britain's UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, who sponsored the Western-backed draft, said he was "appalled" at the third double veto by Russia and China.

    He said: "The effect of their actions is to protect a brutal regime. they have chosen to put their national interests ahead of the lives of millions of Syrians."

    It was a blow to Kofi Annan, the joint UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, who had called for "consequences" for non-compliance with his six-point peace plan, which the Assad government has flouted.

    Mr Annan appealed to the council to unite behind a new resolution, but Moscow would not budge and the West insisted on including the threat of non-military sanctions under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.

    The ballot had been due to take place on Wednesday but was postponed after a bombing in Damascus which killed three key members of Mr Assad's regime.

    It went ahead on Thursday as the first images of Mr Assad emerged since the bomb attack on the inner circle of his regime.

    Under the plan, the Assad Government would have been threatened with non-military sanctions under Capter 7 of the UN Charter if it failed to move military personnel and heavy weapons from populated areas.

    Russia contested the use of Chapter 7, with the country's US Ambassador Vitaly Churkin arguing that the wording opened a path to "external military involvement in Syrian domestic affairs".

    Speaking to Sky's Hannah Thomas-Peter outside the UN, Mr Churkin denied that his country's veto would lead to more deaths in Syria.

    He said: "People do not die because of vetoes, people die because of bad policies and the policy of whipping up confrontation in Syria and trying to force major change of the political, ethnic and confessional set-up in that country."

    Speaking at the Foreign Office in London, Mr Hague insisted that there was no danger of the "necessary and reasonable" resolution being used to authorise military action.

    He rejected characterisations of it as a Western plan, insisting it was backed by countries around the world.

    But he indicated that the door has not been closed on the possible use of force if it is needed in the future, saying that Britain "will rule nothing out" in its efforts to end the killing.

    The UK will now support Mr Annan's proposal for a final 30-day extension of the UN mission's mandate to allow the Assad regime "a last opportunity to live up to its commitments", he said.

    He added: "I believe Russia and China will pay a serious price in the Middle East diplomatically and politically for taking this position.

    "Many observers will conclude that they put national interests ahead of the lives and rights of millions of Syrian people, and they will be held increasingly responsible for worsening the crisis in Syria."

    Mr Hague warned Assad's supporters: "Today's veto does nothing to change the fact that the Assad regime is doomed.

    "My message to all those in the regime is that they will be held accountable for their actions. The pressure on them will not relent for an instant in spite of the veto.

    The White House said Russia and China have placed themselves on "the wrong side of history" by blocking sanctions against the Assad regime.

    Spokesman Jay Carney said the lack of agreement in New York "will have repercussions for the countries that vetoed the resolution for a long time in terms of how they're viewed by the Syrian people, because there is no doubt that Syria's future will not include Bashar Assad."

    The US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said any talk of military intervention was "paranoid if not disingenuous".