Russia considers it necessary to gradually curtail the cross-border assistance mechanism for Syria and suggests adopting a resolution providing for the extension of supplies through only one checkpoint on the border with Turkey, said Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, in a statement published on Tuesday, following the vote to extend the cross-border humanitarian assistance to Syria.
Russia and China vetoed the draft resolution by Germany and Belgium, which proposed leaving two checkpoints open for the UN.
"The time has come to phase out this mechanism in order to replace it with humanitarian supplies that will be implemented in accordance with the principles outlined in UN General Assembly resolution 46/182," the statement said. "However, we are aware of the need to meet the humanitarian needs of all Syrians," Nebenzya added. "We will present our draft resolution, which implies a six-month extension of the mechanism, while limiting the number of existing checkpoints to one at the Bab al-Hawa checkpoint on the Turkish border.
According to the statement, over the past six years, the situation in Syria has changed significantly, in particular, "the territory beyond the control of the Syrian government has been significantly reduced." "We urge partners in the [Security] Council and other UN member states not to politicize the humanitarian dossier, instead to support our draft resolution, which will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Idlib," Nebenzya added.
Due to the UN remote mode of operation, voting took place in written form to the head of the Security Council, a source in the organization told TASS.
"Russia and China voted against the document. 13 members of the council voted in favor. The draft resolution was not adopted because of a vote against it by the permanent members of the Security Council," the source said.
The resolution sponsors Germany and Belgium did not consider Russia's position on the issue, while it has repeatedly advocated a gradual reduction in the number of checkpoints through which aid to Syria "bypasses" Damascus. The proposed draft resolution called for an extension of the cross-border mechanism for a year, instead of the previously planned six months. The document also provided for the possibility of increasing the number of checkpoints open to the UN, if such a need would be spelled out in the report of the UN Secretary General.
As previously reported by the Russian Foreign Ministry, on Tuesday, Russian and German foreign ministers Sergey Lavrov and Heiko Maas discussed over the phone the prospects of a cross-border mechanism for delivering humanitarian aid to Syria. Lavrov drew the attention of his counterpart to the fact that all humanitarian operations should be coordinated with Damascus.
The UN Security Council made the decision to start cross-border humanitarian operations in Syria in July 2014. In January of 2020, it extended the relevant resolution for six months, but the number of checkpoints was reduced from four to two on the border with Turkey.