U.S. Envoy: Russia Shielded Assad From ‘Justice’ on Chemical Strikes

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power addresses the U.N. Security Council on Thursday. Power condemned Russia's veto of a measure to refer the Syrian civil war to the International Criminal Court.
National Journal
Diane Barnes
May 22, 2014, 10:52 a.m.

A seni­or U.S. en­voy ac­cused Rus­sia of giv­ing its Syr­i­an ally in­ter­na­tion­al cov­er for its al­leged past use of chem­ic­al weapons against op­pon­ents.

Am­bas­sad­or Sam­antha Power leveled the as­ser­tion on Thursday, after Mo­scow and Beijing blocked ap­prov­al of a U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil pro­pos­al for the In­ter­na­tion­al Crim­in­al Court to ex­am­ine pos­sible vi­ol­a­tions of in­ter­na­tion­al law in Syr­ia’s 3-year-old civil war. More than 160,000 people have died in the con­flict, a Brit­ish watch­dog or­gan­iz­a­tion said this week.

“Be­cause of the de­cision by the Rus­si­an Fed­er­a­tion to back the Syr­i­an re­gime no mat­ter what it does, the Syr­i­an people will not see justice today,” said Power, Wash­ing­ton’s chief del­eg­ate to the United Na­tions.

The dip­lo­mat said Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad’s gov­ern­ment has “car­ried out chem­ic­al-weapons at­tacks and bar­rel-bomb at­tacks with the full con­fid­ence that mean­ing­ful ac­tion by this coun­cil would be ob­struc­ted.”

Ac­cord­ing to the U.S. dip­lo­mat, Rus­sia’s vote si­lenced vic­tims of a nerve-agent strike that killed hun­dreds of people last sum­mer. Mo­scow has joined the re­gime in blam­ing rebel forces for any use of chem­ic­al arms in the con­flict.

“The rep­res­ent­at­ives from Syr­ia, and per­haps Rus­sia, may sug­gest that the res­ol­u­tion voted on today was biased,” Power said. “I agree — it was biased in the dir­ec­tion of es­tab­lish­ing facts.”

Mo­scow ad­op­ted a dif­fer­ent tack, by prais­ing a joint chem­ic­al-arms dis­arm­a­ment ini­ti­at­ive de­vised after the Aug. 21 sar­in-gas strike. The at­tack ini­tially promp­ted U.S. dis­cus­sion of a po­ten­tial mil­it­ary re­sponse, but those threats sub­sided after Dam­as­cus agreed to a Rus­si­an-U.S. plan for dis­mant­ling its chem­ic­al-ar­sen­al un­der in­ter­na­tion­al su­per­vi­sion.

“When that unity is present we man­age to achieve con­crete pos­it­ive res­ults,” Vi­taly Chur­kin, Rus­sia’s U.N. rep­res­ent­at­ive, said in a state­ment to the Se­cur­ity Coun­cil after the vote.

The Rus­si­an en­voy then singled out France, the au­thor of Thursday’s draft res­ol­u­tion.

Al­lud­ing to com­ments made by French For­eign Min­is­ter Laurent Fabi­us on more re­cent chem­ic­al-strike al­leg­a­tions, Chur­kin ac­cused the top French dip­lo­mat of ex­ploit­ing “his re­cent vis­it to Wash­ing­ton to cri­ti­cize the United States for re­fus­ing to shower mis­siles and bombs on Syr­ia last fall.”

The Rus­si­an dip­lo­mat also noted that the United States has been “re­luct­ant” to re­cog­nize the In­ter­na­tion­al Crim­in­al Court. The tribunal is based The Hag­ue, Neth­er­lands.

What We're Following See More »
Trump Not on Ballot in Minnesota
2 days ago
Trump on Immigration: ‘I Don’t Know, You Tell Me’
2 days ago

Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”

Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
3 days ago

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Trump Cancels Rallies
4 days ago

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
5 days ago

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”