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Editorial: Russia selfish to veto UNSC resolution against Syria

A U.N. Security Council (UNSC) draft resolution regarding Syria failed to pass after the Russian Federation wielded its veto power to shoot it down.

    This is the eighth time that Russia has voted against a UNSC resolution against Syria. We cannot abide the abuse of power by a permanent member of the Security Council, which is responsible for creating and keeping international peace.

    The resolution sought the Syrian government's cooperation with an on-site inspection by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) after the use of chemical weapons in Syria earlier this month.

    Based on intelligence and satellite images, the United States, which took part in drafting the proposal, has concluded that it was Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government forces that used the chemical weapons. Meanwhile, Russia, in its defense of Syria, has maintained that Syrian rebel forces, not government forces, possess an arsenal of chemical weapons.

    Russia objected to provisions in the draft resolution seeking an inspection of the Syrian regime's military facilities, arguing that the resolution was worded in a way that assumed it was the Assad regime that used chemical weapons. Russia's reasoning behind its vote against the resolution is hardly convincing.

    China, which often votes in line with Russia, abstained from voting on this resolution, likely out of consideration for the fact that the vote took place shortly after its leader, Xi Jinping, had just had a summit meeting with his American counterpart, Donald Trump. Among the 15 members of the UNSC, only Russia and Bolivia, whose administration is anti-U.S., voted against the resolution, leaving a strong impression of Russia's isolation within the international community.

    Russia contends that it was the U.S. missile attack on a Syrian military base that violated international law. Meanwhile, the governments of European countries and Japan have expressed understanding of the U.S. military action against Syria, but Russia's argument has failed to garner wide support.

    In a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, which took place simultaneously with the U.N. vote, the two parties agreed to continue talks so as to prevent bilateral relations from deteriorating beyond what it was during the tenure of then-U.S. President Barack Obama. It's unlikely Russia will cut off all dialogue with the U.S., as it finds itself in a difficult position within the international community.

    At the U.S.-Russia meeting, the two countries agreed to have OPCW carry out an on-site inspection in Syria -- which begs the question, why did Russia object to the UNSC resolution that would have made that possible? Russia must use its influence on the Assad regime to urge its cooperation with the inspection.

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