The Russian Federation’s and China’s veto yesterday of a Security Council resolution that allows for humanitarian aid to reach millions of Syrians is shameful. The resolution put forward by Germany, Belgium and Kuwait, and supported by the U.S. would have enabled life-saving assistance to reach at least four million Syrians throughout the country. Unfortunately, the Russian Federation for the 14th time, and China, for the 8th time, failed in this commitment. Both countries preferred instead to provide cover and support for its junior partner in Damascus; thus placing the lives of millions of innocent civilians in the balance at the height of winter, while further threatening civilians by supporting the continued Assad regime and Russian military offensive on Idlib.
To Russia and China, who have chosen to make a political statement by opposing this resolution, you have blood on your hands. There is no substitute for UN cross border deliveries, and there are no viable alternatives to feeding millions of Syrians until the Syrian regime ceases its war on the Syrian people. UN cross-border aid must continue until the Assad regime demonstrates that it is ready to shoulder its moral responsibility to provide unhindered UN humanitarian access to every single Syrian in need, no matter where they live. Russia’s and China’s vetoes of this resolution demonstrate that these governments simply do not care that the horrible Syrian regime continues to obstruct and deny humanitarian access to its own people.
Russia and China argue that the situation has changed, but that’s far from the truth. Millions of Syrians are still in need of assistance. The international community of free and democratic nations, as seen by the Council vote, cannot understand what Russia and China gain from vetoing the resolution and holding humanitarian aid hostage. That is an explanation both nations owe the Council, the Syrian people, and the international community of nations that support human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The United States will remain committed to helping the voiceless, the hungry, the displaced, and the orphaned receive the humanitarian aid they require to survive no matter where they live. We are the largest single humanitarian donor in Syria, having provided $10.5 billion since the start of the crisis in 2011. We are proud of our principled stance to help every Syrian in need – even in regime-held areas – and will continue to shine a light on those who choose not to help.