Russia Calls Proposed Syria Resolution at UN Unworkable

Russia objected to a draft United Nations Security Council resolution on Syria that threatens the use of force against those who fail to provide humanitarian relief, calling the measure unworkable.

Australia, Luxembourg and Jordan had circulated the draft resolution yesterday among the five permanent members of the council, the UN’s most powerful body. Russia “found the aforementioned draft, unfortunately, unworkable,” Alexey Zaytsev, spokesman for the Russian mission to the UN, said today in an e-mail.

Since Syria’s civil war erupted in March 2011, the Security Council hasn’t been able to adopt a resolution requiring all parties to ease humanitarian suffering. Russia and China, backers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, have vetoed three Western-backed resolutions that sought to condemn his government and threaten it with punitive measures.

A copy of the latest draft resolution, obtained by Bloomberg News, called for acting against those who fail to facilitate rapid access to humanitarian aid and cease indiscriminate attacks on civilians as a weapon of war. It cited provisions under Chapter 7 of the UN charter that authorize the use of armed force and economic sanctions.

While the text addresses all parties to the conflict, there’s specific emphasis on the Syrian regime’s obligations to cease its “indiscriminate employment of weapons,” such as barrel bombs and Scud missiles, and to lift all restrictions on cross-border aid delivery “in particular, via Turkey and Iraq.”

Homs Relief

“This is not an ‘all parties’ problem -- the principal source of obstruction is the Syrian regime,” U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power told reporters yesterday in New York.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council are the U.S., the U.K., France, China and Russia.

The Assad regime temporarily halted the siege of the central city of Homs today for the first time in more than a year. It let about 83 women, children and elderly people leave as part of an agreement with the opposition to introduce a three-day humanitarian pause.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov pointed to the Homs deal as proof that there’s no need for a Security Council resolution.

“This confirms that the humanitarian problems of the Syrian population can be solved through concrete steps, not the adoption by the UN Security Council of politicized resolutions,” Gatilov said in a post on his Twitter Inc. account today.

International Court

The draft resolution includes a reference to the need to bring to justice at the International Criminal Court “those who have committed or are otherwise responsible for such violations and abuses.”

Russia disputes allegations by the U.S. and its allies that Assad’s regime is responsible for torturing and executing about 11,000 detainees and killing more than 1,400 civilians last year in a sarin gas attack.

Western and Arab countries that want Assad’s ouster restarted the push for a legally binding resolution last week. The move came after the first round of peace talks between the main Western-backed opposition coalition and Assad’s government ended with no progress, and a nonbinding Security Council statement proved ineffective.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.