UNITED NATIONS — Russia on Thursday blocked the UN Security Council from adopting a statement on the situation in southwestern Syria, where rebels are under intense bombardment, diplomats said after an urgent meeting requested by Sweden and Kuwait.
Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, said there would be no statement for the press.
“We are focused on fighting terrorism,” he said.
Another diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there had been a fruitless push to persuade Moscow to accept a declaration based on the need to deliver humanitarian aid.
The Security Council pleaded with Russia to allow humanitarian convoys, stranded on the Jordanian border, to reach people fleeing bombing on the Syrian side.
When asked to address this, Nebenzia merely said the UN already had a resolution allowing for the delivery of humanitarian aid “across borders.”
A different diplomat said Western nations and the Council as a whole — except Russia — had shown a “strong unity” to denounce the ongoing military offensive in southwest Syria and its humanitarian consequences.
Russia was “isolated,” the source said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said earlier that the Russia-backed offensive by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime was having a “devastating impact on civilians.”
“An estimated 750,000 lives are in danger and up to 325,000 people have been displaced,” Guterres said of the offensive that began June 19.
Rebels in Syria’s battered south said they were returning to talks with Russia after the most intensive bombing campaign yet in the regime’s two-week offensive.