By Ria Novosti
British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Monday accused Russia and China of betraying the interests of the Syrian nation, British Sky News television reported.
Hague’s statement came after Russia and China used their veto right on February 4 to block a new Morocco-submitted draft resolution on Syria, backed by the Arab League and Western nations, to prevent the repetition of “the Libyan scenario.”
“Such vetoes are a betrayal of the Syrian people,” Hague told the House of Commons.
“In deploying them they have let down the Arab League, they have increased the likelihood of what they wish to avoid in Syria – civil war – and they have placed themselves on the wrong side of Arab and international opinion,” the British foreign secretary said.
At least 5,400 people have been killed in the Syrian government’s 11-month crackdown on protesters, according to the UN. Syrian authorities blame the violence on armed gangs affiliated with al-Qaeda and say more than 2,000 soldiers and police have been killed.
The Syrian army launched one the fiercest assaults on the city of Homs in the 11-month uprising. Fifteen people are believed to have been killed so far on Monday, according to the BBC.
Over the weekend, Russia and China vetoed the draft resolution calling on President Bashar al-Assad to step down, claiming it lacked balance. Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s envoy to the UN, said it targeted Assad’s government but contained no measures against rebel armed groups.
The vetoes drew a barrage of criticism from Western powers and the Syrian opposition.
Britain has recalled its ambassador from Syria for consultations, and the United States on Monday shuttered its embassy in Syria and pulled out its staff over security concerns.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday said the UN Security Council was too hasty in putting the new Syria resolution to a vote, apparently meaning that the result of the vote could have been different if the issue had been put to vote a few days later.
Lavrov and Foreign Intelligence Service head Mikhail Fradkov will visit Syria and meet with President al-Assad on February 7 on instructions from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
Russia, one of Assad’s firm supporters during the uprising against his regime, indicated earlier that it would veto the draft resolution calling on Assad to step down and providing for “further measures” should he refuse. Moscow has proposed its own draft, which the West criticized as being too soft.
Russia supplies arms to Syria, but Lavrov on Saturday denied that the supplies could affect the balance of power in the Middle East.