WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement Wednesday after Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution yesterday that would have imposed sanctions on key individuals in the Assad regime for their role in the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people:
“The vetoes by Russia and China in the UN Security Council today send a clear signal to other dictators and governments that they can fear no consequences for violating clear international norms and obligations by using chemical weapons against innocent civilians. I am also deeply disappointed in the decisions by Egypt, Ethiopia, and Kazakhstan to abstain from this critical vote.
“Once again, Russia has shown through its actions that it cannot serve as an effective actor in enforcing a ceasefire or facilitating political negotiations to end the war in Syria. Putin cannot credibly convene parties for a Syria political transition while shielding Assad from accountability for his war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is not only a flagrant challenge to the viability of our rules-based international order, but also morally reprehensible.
“I hope that the Trump Administration will work with willing partners who believe the Assad regime should be held accountable for their actions, and impose sanctions along with other measures.”
In August 2015, the Security Council established a UN-Organization for the Prohibition Against Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fact-finding mechanism following multiple reports of chemical weapons use in Syria. At that time, Russia and China supported the mandate of the UN-OPCW investigation. Last October, the UN-OPCW joint investigation concluded that the Assad regime used chemical weapons at least three times since Syria jointed the CWC. After these findings were published, Senator Cardin called for swift and decisive action at the UN Security Council and the OPCW to impose consequences for the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons.