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Trib editorial: U.N. Watch — Russia's toxic veto

| Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Syrian President Bashar Assad in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Syrian President Bashar Assad in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

The unconscionable use of chemical weapons in Syria will go unanswered at the United Nations, where Russia blocked an American-sponsored resolution in the Security Council, thereby killing the committee investigating what amounts to war crimes.

The resolution, which would have extended what's called the Joint Investigative Mechanism, had been supported by 11 of 15 Security Council members, The New York Times reported. But Russia's veto dissolved the panel, which to date had determined that both the Syrian government — Moscow's ally — and ISIS used chemical weapons in the nearly 7-year-old war. Reportedly it's the 10th time Russia invoked its veto to protect Bashar Assad's ruthless regime.

“The next chemical weapons attack is on your heads,” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told the Russians, because Russia's veto leaves Syria's use unanswered. It also leaves open the door for other despotic rulers to do the same.

Russia in response denounced the U.S. resolution as “a joke — complete nonsense.” Not according to third-party disarmament experts, who expressed alarm over the investigative panel's termination and insisted that its work was “very professional, unbiased and based on forensic evidence.”

Some observers suggest Russia's move underscores the return of Cold War tensions. But that enmity never ended between the U.S. and Moscow at Turtle Bay. What's revealed is the broken U.N. system, under which politics and power typically trump human rights and suffering.

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