Having vetoed a Western-backed UN Security Council effort to punish Syria today, Russian officials were critical of the timing of the effort, saying it would have a negative impact on the ongoing UN-backed peace talks in Geneva.
“It is counter-constructive,” insisted Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov, saying that meetings with the opposition would end up in a negative climate because of the way the resolution, which nominally targeted Syria for chemical weapons use, was put forward.
Russia, along with Turkey and Iran, brokered a ceasefire weeks ago which gave way to some peace talks in Astana, and those have continued with UN talks in Geneva. Though the UN mediators have said they don’t hold out a lot of hope that this round of talks will be more successful than the last one, the Security Council effort clearly wasn’t part of the plan.
There was no surprise that Russia and China both stepped forward on vetoing the resolution, and in a lot of cases, they wouldn’t bother to bring up a resolution to a vote in the first place knowing the veto is coming. Such votes tend to be designed for diplomatic purposes, but in this case the Russians see that purpose as about derailing the talks.