Russia would veto referral of Syria to criminal court

Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, votes against a draft resolution that declares a planned referendum on the status of Ukraine's Crimea region "can have no validity" at the U.N. Security Council in New York. (File photo: Reuters)

Russia would veto a draft U.N. resolution to refer the Syrian war to the International Criminal Court if it comes to a vote in the Security Council, the Interfax news agency quoted Gennady Gatilov, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister as saying on Tuesday.

The announcement came after France circulated a draft resolution to U.N. Security Council members on May 12 that seeks to refer the three-year-old civil war to the ICC for possible prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity, Reuters news agency reported.

Russia had already voiced opposition to a referral, but Gatilov’s remarks were the clearest warning yet of a veto.

“The draft that has been submitted to the U.N. Security Council is unacceptable to us, and we will not support it,” Gatilov was quoted as saying. “If it is put to a vote, we will veto it.”

Russia has been President Bashar al-Assad’s most powerful diplomatic backer during the war, blocking - along with China - three resolutions that would have condemned his government, threatened sanctions and called for war crimes accountability.

Russia and the United States initiated a peace process that led to talks between the government and its opponents, but it has faltered and Moscow’s confrontation with the West over Ukraine has further reduced the chances for success.

(With Reuters)

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:43 - GMT 06:43