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Security Council Veto Marks Frosty Day in U.S.-Russia Relations

by Countable | 4.12.17

The rift between the American and Russian governments was on full display Wednesday, as the latter blocked a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited his counterpart and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow to discuss their differences, and President Donald Trump hosted the Secretary General of NATO — a key counterweight to Russia — at the White House. We’ve recapped the day’s diplomatic events for you below.

Security Council showdown

Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley has been vocal in condemning Russia for its support of the Assad regime, saying the day after sarin gas was used to kill more than 80 civilians that it "cannot escape responsibility" for the attack because it had failed to remove the chemical weapons as promised. Eight days after the attack, the Security Council had its opportunity to take action.

The U.S. delegation, along with the British and French, drafted a resolution that strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons and directed the Syrian government to allow an investigation to proceed. The trio of permanent Security Council members gained the support of seven non-permanent members that don’t hold vetoes, but Russia chose to use its veto power as the council’s fourth permanent member to defeat the resolution. Three countries abstained from voting — Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, and China — the latter being the fifth permanent member of the Security Council.

Wednesday marked the eighth time since the Syrian civil war began in March 2011 that Russia used its veto to stop a UN resolution condemning the Assad regime. (China joined Russia in vetoing six of those eight resolutions).

Tillerson’s trip to Moscow

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited the Kremlin for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and spent two hours with Putin on Wednesday. No agreement was reached on assigning responsibility for last week’s chemical attack in Syria, as the U.S. still maintains that the Assad regime used sarin gas, while Russia insists the facts are unknown and that an investigation should occur. Other issues discussed included North Korea’s recent tests of its nuclear capabilities, the situation in Ukraine, and Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

At a joint press conference following the meeting, Tillerson said "there is a low level of trust between our countries" and “the world’s foremost nuclear powers cannot have this kind of relationship,” a sentiment that Lavrov echoed. The pair did agree to form a working group that examines “the irritants” in U.S.-Russia relations.

Trump weighs in

President Trump weighed in on the tension with Russia while hosting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House. He said that ties with Russia "may be at an all-time low" but praised the “great alliance” between the U.S. and its NATO partners. Referring to his statement about the alliance’s vitality during the presidential campaign, Trump told the press conference “I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete.”

For his part, Stoltenberg expressed gratitude for the U.S. commitment to NATO and its contributions to NATO’s fight against terrorism. He also praised Trump’s calls for "fairer burden sharing" in the alliance as encouraging more NATO members to meet their commitment to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense.

Given that NATO was formed to provide for the collective defense of the U.S. and much of Europe against the Soviet Union, it was inevitable that Stoltenberg would be asked about the status of U.S.-Russia relations. Stoltenberg, who served in the Norwegian military before becoming his country’s prime minister said that "we don’t want a new Cold War, we don’t want a new arms race" but that a strong, united NATO is a “precondition for political dialog with Russia.”

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— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Keith Anderson via Wikimedia / Public Domain)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(157)
  • Joanne
    04/13/2017
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    This is all a SMOKESCREEN, we must have a full bipartisan independent investigation into Trump and Russia NOW!!! Thank you

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  • Katie
    04/13/2017
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    Stay on the trump/Russia ties. If the administration is genuine in its willingness to take a stand in Russia's role propping up the Assad regime, great. But that does not negate collusion to steal this election.

    Like (97)
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  • Erin
    04/13/2017
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    To me, this seems like an engineered political maneuver to help the president not look too friendly toward Russia.

    Like (83)
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  • Andrea
    04/13/2017
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    All smoke and mirrors trying to distract us from the fact that Trump and his crew have sold out Americans and are deeply in bed with the Russians.

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  • Ticktock
    04/13/2017
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    For Russia and the US it's not about Syria, the Ukraine, or even about NATO for either country. It's about the leaderships view of what will make these countries look great to the supporters of those leaders. Putin is trying to reconstruct the Soviet Union, it's power, influence and gather those ethnic Russians along it's borders into Russia even at the expense of annexation of portions of neighboring countries. Putin has allied Russia with regimes that the Soviet Union supported in it's prime: Syria and Iran but it has not yet step into Iraq but will via Iran. Russian may not have the military might it had at one time but it does have it's allies and influence. The US has elected an isolationist who's supporters want to see the federal government much weaker and in disarray. Trump is in the process of disassembling the federal government now and remove it as a mold for national interest. Even now the federal government is delivering mixed messages via the UN and Secretary of State rendering it unable to respond coherently to world crisis. What our leaders say is worthless, what the US does speaks volumes. The US when confronted has backed down and rolled up it's borders on every front. While touting that the US has the strongest military in the world we are in the process of withdrawing from the world stage. One ineffective military missile strike does not support US claims to military or moral superiority. The US is moving toward it's goal as is Russia and China. The future of international politics will be molded by those that assert themselves on the world stage. The US will not be one of them.

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  • Joe
    04/13/2017
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    We have an administration that has absolutely no idea what they're doing, all I am asking is that you please try to avoid WW3.

    Like (23)
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  • Linda
    04/13/2017
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    Do not fall for this deflection!

    Like (22)
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  • Karen
    04/13/2017
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    The most pressing issue is to sort out the relationship between Russia and the White House! Don't let Syria become a smoke screen!

    Like (21)
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  • Victoria
    04/13/2017
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    This is all a lie. Notice our Sec of State ditching his press pool to hang out with his BFF Putin. Relations are better than ever, I'd say.

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  • Jehu
    04/13/2017
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    All government decrees should be put on hold until this administration has been fully investigated. From the election meddling from Russia to the blatant destruction of core democratic agencies.

    Like (16)
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  • Andrea
    04/13/2017
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    All smoke and mirrors!

    Like (14)
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  • Victoria
    04/13/2017
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    Stay on the Trump/Russia ties or come time for reelection, I will work as hard as possible to ensure a victory for your opponent!

    Like (14)
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  • Haidee
    04/13/2017
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    Here's hoping this leads to Russia disclosure of all the hacking they did to get 45 in the White House.

    Like (11)
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  • Ray
    04/13/2017
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    I hope our representatives can bring themselves to require the President to get his Administration on the same page and develop a unified and coherent foreign policy. The alt-right movement and the ilk of Steve Bannon must give way to thoughtful and educated policies that conform to international norms. Our enemies will undoubtedly take advantage of the lack of leadership in the Whitehouse. You as our elected representatives must stand in the gap and lead or impeach the President.

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  • Audra
    04/13/2017
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    Whatever is happening in Syria must not distract us from the investigation into Russia and possible coordination with the Trump team. The American people deserve a full and complete bipartisan investigation. We need to know the truth, whatever that may be.

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  • Lynn
    04/13/2017
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    It's glaringly apparent that the current administration is inept in its ability to govern for and by the people. This is a poor attempt to deflect from the investigation on Russia's influence on our electoral process. Do not be fooled DJT is a grifter

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  • StartingOut
    04/13/2017
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    There's little we can do at this point. A US-Russian war would not go well for either side for sure, and there are an insane amount of unknown factors. Careful diplomacy is the only way we can keep catastrophe from occurring. It's going to take a careful game of political tiptoe around the bombshell before anything is assured. Like Putin or not, the US cannot majorly punish him without provoking war. That's not even taking into the account many believe we shouldn't do anything.

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  • Yuri
    04/13/2017
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    Syria is a smoke screen (yet another) by Trump like Iraq was for Bush Jnr and WOMD (we all know how that movie ended). I don't believe Assad's army carried out the chemical attack, we need to have a full independent investigation and neither Russia nor US should take part. This is the real reason political reform is needed in our country, our foreign policy is out of control and if affecting everybody's lives in a negative way, while we are stuck arguing for more jobs, better healthcare and less taxes, this is not a coincidence.

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  • Hershey
    04/13/2017
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    I don't believe a word of anything the Trump Administration has to say about Russia. I don't believe that this is a new incident. I fully believe that all events have been coordinated with the Russian government. This is an attempted cover-up.

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  • Carrie
    04/13/2017
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    Keep the heat on, collusion is there, please find it!

    Like (4)
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