Russia has vetoed a proposal to set up an investigation into chemical weapons use in Syria.
The US-drafted UN resolution would have established a new body to determine whether Syria was responsible for a chemical attack in Douma last week which killed 70 people.
This is the 12th time Russia has used its veto power at the council to block action targeting Syria.
In the 15-member Security Council, 12 voted in favour of the proposal, while Bolivia joined Russia in voting “no” and China abstained.
A draft resolution requires nine votes to be adopted in the 15-member council and no veto from the five permanent members, which are Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.
US ambassador Nikki Haley said the United States “went the extra mile” to get Russian support for the resolution to ensure that a new investigative body would be impartial, independent and professional, things she said would not be guaranteed by a rival Russian resolution.
Russia’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the US of wanting the resolution to fail “to justify the use of force against Syria”.
Mr Nebenzia said the resolution was trying to recreate the old expert body, whose extension Moscow blocked in November. He called that body “a puppet in the hands of anti-Damascus forces”.
Boris Johnson tweeted that Russia’s veto was “hugely disappointing”.
The Foreign Secretary said: “Hugely disappointing that Russia vetoed the proposal at the UN for an independent investigation into Syrian chemical attacks.”
“Russia is holding the Syrian people to political ransom by supporting a regime responsible for at least four heinous chemical attacks against its people.”
Hugely disappointing that Russia vetoed the proposal at the UN for an independent investigation into Syrian chemical attacks. Russia is holding the Syrian people to political ransom by supporting a regime responsible for at least 4 heinous chemical attacks against its people
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) 10 April 2018
The veto comes after the US Ambassador to NATO described Bashar al Assad’s actions as genocide, and said Russia was propping him up.
Kay Bailey Hutchinson told Sky’s Defence Correspondent Alistair Bunkall: “We would call on Russia to do something, they’re propping up Assad. They’re helping him.
“They should do something to stop this kind of genocide.
“We would call upon them to do that but I think a military response is appropriate.”
When Alistair Bunkall probed: “You would describe it as genocide, would you?”
Ms Bailey Hutchinson responded: “I think killing your own people with chemical weapons, yes.”
The United Nations Security Council rejected a counter resolution drafted by Russia on investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Six countries including China and Russia backed the measure, while seven nations voted against.
Two countries abstained.
However, inspectors with the global chemical weapons watchdog will travel to Douma to investigate reports of a chemical attack.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Syria has been asked to “make the necessary arrangements for such a deployment”.
“This has coincided with a request from the Syrian Arab Republic and the Russian Federation to investigate the allegations of chemical weapons use in Douma. The team is preparing to deploy to Syria shortly.”
Earlier on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump spoke to Theresa May on the phone to discuss Syria.
Both leaders agreed the international community needs to respond to uphold the worldwide prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.
They said the UK and the US must work closely together and with international partners to ensure those responsible are held to account.