9 Oct 2016

Russia 'deepening divides' at Security Council - NZ

8:54 pm on 9 October 2016

Russia's veto of a Security Council resolution to stop bombing in the Syrian city of Aleppo has undermined the Council's credibility, New Zealand's ambassador to the United Nations says.

Smoke rises after a residential area in the Darat Izza neighbourhood of Aleppo was bombed, apparently by Russia.

Smoke rises after a residential area in the Darat Izza neighbourhood of Aleppo was bombed, apparently by Russia. Photo: AFP

The resolution, which was submitted jointly by France and Spain, aimed to end all bombardment of Aleppo, which has been under siege by Syrian and Russian planes.

It also called for a renewed ceasefire.

But Russia wanted the resolution to strike all references to aerial bombardment, and used its veto power.

New Zealand Ambassador to the United Nations Gerard van Bohemen told the Security Council that Russia's actions were deepening divides within the Council, and had hamstrung efforts to help the situation in Syria.

He said Russia and Syria were using counter-terrorism as a pretext for the mass murder of civilians.

British UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin: "Thanks to your actions today, Syrians will continue to lose their lives in Aleppo and beyond to Russian and Syrian bombing. Please stop now."

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, backed by Russian war planes and Iranian support, have been battling to capture eastern Aleppo, the rebel-held half of Syria's largest city, where more than 250,000 civilians are trapped.

New Zealand's representative at the United Nations Gerard Van Bohemen.

Ambassador Gerard Van Bohemen. Photo: AFP

"Russia has become one of the chief purveyors of terror in Aleppo, using tactics more commonly associated with thugs than governments," US Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations David Pressman told the council.

He said Russia was "intent on allowing the killing to continue and, indeed, participating in carrying it out" and that what was needed from Moscow was "less talk and more action from them to stop the slaughter."

It was the fifth time Russia has used its veto on a UN resolution on Syria during the more than five-year conflict.

- RNZ / Reuters