3. The U.N. “We need to use the United Nations Security Council,” Putin writes. “Preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos.” That’s hilarious. Putin has done everything possible to prevent the council from containing the chaos in Syria. Here’s the U.S. account of Russia’s behavior, delivered by U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power:
“Since 2011, Russia and China have vetoed three separate Security Council resolutions condemning the Syrian regime’s violence or promoting a political solution to the conflict. This year alone, Russia has blocked at least three statements expressing humanitarian concern and calling for humanitarian access to besieged cities in Syria. And in the past two months, Russia has blocked two resolutions condemning the generic use of chemical weapons and two press statements expressing concern about their use.”
If you don’t trust that account, read the Times: “From the start of the war two and a half years ago, Russia has been Syria’s strongest backer, using its veto repeatedly to block any meaningful action at the Security Council.” Or read the Finnish report:
“When the al-Assad regime resorted to the use of military force to suppress growing political unrest in the country, Moscow fiercely resisted initiatives by the Arab and Western countries to adopt the United Nations Security Council (unsc) resolutions condemning the government forces and suggesting the possibility of introducing non-military sanctions against Syria (including an arms embargo). Moscow vetoed the draft unsc resolutions three times …”
Or read the report from the Human Rights Watch monitor in Syria:
“We have tried again and again to convince Moscow to play a constructive role to resolve the Syrian crisis—to use its influence with al-Assad to stop the attacks on civilians; to work with the moderate parts of the opposition; to assist with aid delivery to thousands of displaced people in opposition-controlled areas; and to support international efforts to bring war criminals on both sides to justice. … Moscow consistently refused, for example, to support a U.N. Commission of Inquiry into the situation in Syria.”
That’s the reality of Russia’s conduct. In Moscow, a state-controlled TV network suggested last night that for brokering peace in Syria, Putin deserves a Nobel Peace Prize. I’d nominate him for a different prize: an Oscar.
William Saletan's latest short takes on the news, via Twitter: