UNSC extends Syria cross-border aid mechanism; US, France, UK abstain
The UN Security Council approved a resolution on aid delivery to Syria that goes with Russia's concerns about Syria's sovereignty.
The UN Security Council extended on Tuesday the cross-border aid mechanism in Syria for six months in a compromise resolution that accommodated Russia's concerns regarding the issue.
The resolution passed with 12 member states out of 15 voting in favor, while three member states, the United States, France, and the United Kingdom, abstained. The abstaining nations said they wanted a resolution that provided for an automatic extension of the mechanism after the first six months.
"The world is not limited to the Western countries or the so-called first golden billion as was imagined in Washington, London, and Paris," Russian deputy envoy to the United Nations Dmitry Polyanskiy said in the wake of the vote.
"It's time for you to get used to respecting the interests of other states first and foremost, just such states who are impacted directly by the Security Council decisions," he told the western states that abstained.
If a separate resolution is approved, the aid mechanism can be extended for another six months. The approved resolution asks for a special report of the Secretary-General on the issue.
US deputy envoy Richard Mills accused Russia of taking the entire UN Security Council "hostage" because Moscow voiced its concerns regarding the delivery of aid to Syria.
China, on the other hand, said it was pleased with the results of the vote, noting that it shared Moscow's position supporting the sovereignty of Syria.
"The resolution provides for the necessary flexibility to allow the council to assess and adjust its mandate in a timely manner. The resolution sets out clear demands for early recovery programs and greater transparency in relief efforts," Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun said during the debate.
The resolution produced by Norway and Ireland is very similar to that of Russia, which had been previously voted down. Western countries sought to automatically extend the mechanism for 12 months, but Moscow made it clear that it could only support a six-month extension.
Russia stressed that it wanted the cross-border mechanism to be gradually substituted by a cross-line mechanism for aid delivery, and it believes that only that mechanism allows Damascus to control its sovereign territory.
Cross-border aid deliveries go through the Bab Al-Hawa border crossing from Turkey to Syria's Idlib, which harbors a lot of internationally acknowledged terrorists. The process is not fully transparent, and it is unknown what's going on there and how the aid is delivered to those in need.
A similar situation in the UNSC happened in 2021; the cross-border mechanism was extended for six months with a possible extension as a result of lengthy talks between Russian and US negotiators.
In a Security Council session, Russia used its veto against a Western draft resolution calling for the extension of sending aid from the United Nations to Syria through Turkey without Damascus' consent for one year; Moscow has accepted the extension for six months only.
Thirteen council members supported the Western draft resolution, while Russia opposed it and China abstained from the vote. In this context, a draft resolution submitted by Russia failed to be adopted after a double veto by the US and the UK.
Syria's permanent representative to the United Nations, Bassam Sabbagh, said that delegates, including the Russian and Chinese delegates, made efforts to highlight ways to improve the humanitarian situation and the delivery of aid to Syria.