Russia and China used their vetoes on 20 December 2019 to block a UN Security Council resolution that would have extended for a year cross-border humanitarian aid to four million Syrians. Humanitarian aid currently flows into Syria through UN-designated checkpoints without the formal permission of the regime in Damascus, but that authority is due to expire on January 10.
  1. Germany, Belgium and Kuwait presented a resolution extending that authority for a year, winning the support of 13 council members but drawing the vetoes of Russia and China.
  2. A competing Russian resolution that would have granted a six-month extension while reducing the number of UN crossing points was rejected, having failed to get the minimum nine votes.
  3. Russia is a close ally and major supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and has used its veto 14 times on Syrian issues since the start of the civil war there in 2011.
  4. Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, said the latest resolution was “obsolete” because the authorities in Damascus have “retaken control of most” of Syria’s territory.
  5. But the UN humanitarian relief department says the aid remains crucial as the situation on the ground has deteriorated over the past year and Syria is heading into winter.
  6. Four million Syrians directly benefit from the cross-border aid shipments while 11 million benefit from international aid after eight years of war.
  7. The latest resolution failed just as tens of thousands of civilians flee the northwestern Idlib region due to heavy bombardments by Assad’s government, backed by Russia, in the last bastion of the jihadist opposition.
  8. The text vetoed called for a one-year extension of the authorization to ship humanitarian relief supplies into Syriain effect since 2014 — through three checkpoints, two in Turkey and one in Iraq.
  9. Earlier in the week, Russia offered a competing draft resolution calling for a six-month extension, but only via the two Turkish checkpoints.
  10. Put to a vote, that proposal was rejected, with the United States, France, Britain, Poland, Peru and the Dominican Republic voting against. Germany, Belgium, Kuwait and Indonesia abstained.